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Magic 2011 Set Review – Red

 

Luckily for red, Lightning Bolt is back, since otherwise M11 would have been an almost complete bust. The loss of Siege-Gang Commander is big, and there is no good creature to step and take its place.

As usual, the grading system is as follows:

Constructed

5.0: Multi-format All-Star. Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf.

4.0: Format staple. Bloodbraid Elf. Baneslayer Angel.

3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. Raging Ravine. Oblivion Ring.

3.0: Archetype staple. Sprouting Thrinax. Goblin Guide.

2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. Rampant Growth. Divination.

2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Celestial Purge. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this “maybe” category, although explanation of why 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.)

Limited

5.0: I will always play this card. Period.

4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.

4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.

3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.

3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)

2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)

2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)

1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)

1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)

0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)

0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)

Act of Treason

Act of Treason 

Constructed: 2.0

I’ve never really been impressed with Threaten effects as sideboard tech. The circumstances under which they work seem way too narrow, since you don’t actually kill anything. If you board in Act of Treason to “deal” with Baneslayer Angel, but don’t kill them the turn you Act, you didn’t really accomplish much. I do think that Act is safer than [card]Traitorous Instinct[/card] though, since needing the fourth mana is just asking for trouble.

Limited: 1.0

This may seem like a low rating, especially for those of us who just came off drafting Rise and know how good Traitorous Instinct was, but it really is all about context. There are no giant annihilator guys to take, and the black-red tokens deck with 2-3 Bloodthrone Vampires is not an archetype anymore. The only decks that really want Act of Treason are the super aggressive decks, decks with Bloodthrone Vampire and Viscera Seer (both of which I would rather not play most of the time), and decks that side in Act for racing matchups.

Ancient Hellkite

Ancient Hellkite 

Constructed: 1.0

Hellkites don’t have a great Constructed track record, though we did use Hellkite Charger at the Block Pro Tour. Any creature that costs 5+ mana better do a good job of protecting itself or end the game if not dealt with, and this does neither.

Limited: 4.0

Another pricey Limited bomb, Ancient Hellkite is certainly worth seven mana. There seem to be a lot of variants of the “attack and kill their guys” Dragon, which I guess is a good way of representing firebreathing. All I know is that they are all pretty absurd in Limited, and Ancient Hellkite is no exception.

Arc Runner

Arc Runner 

Constructed: 1.0

I would just like to ox you a question: Why aren’t you playing Ball Lightning?

Limited: 1.0

I would be surprised if I ever played this card, but that doesn’t mean nobody will want to. Even in a very aggressive deck, this is not an efficient way to get damage through, since it just trades 1 for 1 with any creature without trampling over or anything.

Berserkers of Blood Ridge

Berserkers of Blood Ridge 

Constructed: 1.0

Now that Siege-Gang is gone, maybe Jund needs a five drop”¦

Limited: 2.5

The Berserkers are fine, though the must-attack clause can get awkward from time to time. The abundance of large creatures that kill Berserkers without dying is a cause for concern, since now blue has two guys that eat Berserkers and black has one, making the Barbarians a little worse than they were in M10.

Bloodcrazed Goblin

Bloodcrazed Goblin 

Constructed: 1.0

Bloodcrazed Goblin is definitely a step up from Jackal Familiar, since Bolting them or whatever isn’t all that hard to accomplish. Call me crazy, but I still don’t think it will see much play, since having your 1-drop need help to attack is just too situational. I’m sure people will try and make it work, but the upside of attacking for two isn’t worth the risk of not being able to attack, and red has a ton of good options nowadays.

Limited: 0.5

Maindecking this is surely a mistake, but it could come in out of the board to block their bears. There is no way to reliably attack with this, but a 2/2 wall for R is playable in some matchups.

Canyon Minotaur

Canyon Minotaur 

Constructed: 1.0

I’m just waiting until the critical mass of Minotaurs is reached and the Didgeridoo deck begins to dominate Legacy.

Limited: 2.5

I have never been happy to have random Hill Giants in my deck, but they do their job well enough. If you get to the point where you are cutting Canyon Minotaurs, you are in a very good spot.

Chandra Nalaar

Chandra Nalaar 

Constructed: 2.0

Like Liliana Vess, Chandra shows up now and then in sideboards, and also like Liliana, she is just a little too expensive to be good. Theoretically, red decks can use her to answer big guys like Baneslayer Angel or Obstinate Baloth, but she never works out all that well.

Limited: 4.5

Chandra is the best planeswalker in the set, and one of the best cards overall. She comes in, eats a guy, and now they have to make bad attacks or she will continue to kill creatures. Alternately, you can go for the ultimate if you have enough of a board presence to protect her. She only costs five, and even when you are very far behind she kills a guy and gains you some life. Being good when you are ahead, even, or behind is one of the qualities that makes a bomb a bomb, and Chandra certainly is.

Chandra’s Outrage

Chandras Outrage 

Constructed: 1.0

The comparison between this and Searing Blaze is pretty outrageous: double the mana for 2/3 of the important effect, and the slight bonus of not needing landfall.

Limited: 3.5

Lightning Blast was always pretty sick in Limited, and Chandra’s Outrage is going to be better most of the time. Even without the 2 damage to the controller, this would be a high pick, and as a bonus for red drafters, it isn’t splashable.

Chandra’s Spitfire

Chandras Spitfire 

Constructed: 1.0

Giving Kiln Fiend flying is nice, and I guess it triggers off Cunning Sparkmage if that’s important, but the extra mana just kills it. At three mana, Hell’s Thunder is just going to be better most of the time, and more importantly, more consistent.

Limited: 2.0

I don’t expect this to actually spit fire most of the time, but a 1/3 flier for 2R is a fine blocker, and even pings them for one when the board is stable. I suspect that this would get played better if it didn’t have its ability, since people are going to be tempted to Bolt their opponent or whatnot when they really shouldn’t.

Combust

Combust 

Constructed: 2.0

Combust dealing with Baneslayer Angel is nice, but not answering Kor Firewalker is kind of rough. Between Baneslayer Angel, Kor Firewalker, and Leyline of Sanctity, red decks have a lot of cards they need to be concerned with, and playing a sideboard card that only deals with one of them is a bit narrow. Splashing black for Doom Blade handles multiple problems, though if you can correctly figure out what your opponents will be sideboarding, Combust can be a good answer.

Limited: 1.0

A little worse than Celestial Purge all told, but still essentially the same card. Being uncounterable can be pretty sweet, though the ability to kill non-creature permanents is probably better.

Cyclops Gladiator

Cyclops Gladiator 

Constructed: 1.0

Do you like decks about Gladiators? I don’t think I do, since once again we have hit the magic number 4, and the Cyclops here doesn’t measure up. He isn’t too far off, since a 4/4 for 4 that presumably eats a guy when he attacks (Wall of Omens seems like a good target) isn’t bad, but how can you compete against the current crop of four drops without doing something absurd? Even though Mono-Red doesn’t play any of those four drops, spending four mana on a vastly worse play than the opponent made is not how you win games.

Limited: 3.5

The triple-colored mana cost is a cause for concern, since playing this on turn four isn’t going to happen all that often. The Gladiator does a decent job of complicating the board for your opponent, though you usually will only get a two for one, since almost any two creatures can team up to kill him. Of course, if you happen to have some removal to pick off their untapped guys, things could get ugly. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a guy.

Demolish

Demolish 

Constructed: 1.0

It doesn’t seem too overpowered to reprint Pillage, since Demolish sure isn’t making any waves.

Limited: 0.5

Demolish is definitely worse than Naturalize, but you still want one for your sideboard if possible. Being able to kill some broken equipment or a Platinum Angel is crucial, and every now and then you can demolish their ability to cast spells if they are land-shy.

Destructive Force

Destructive Force 

Constructed: 3.0

I was never a fan of playing against Wildfire, mostly because it was in that stupid UR Magnivore deck a few years back, but it definitely was a good card. The extra mana is worth the slight upgrade in numbers, making this a force to be reckoned with. Planeswalkers work quite well with this, and some sort of Destructive Force/planeswalker deck might be on the horizon (either UWR or WRG would be my guess). There are very few creatures that can hope to survive this (five damage is conveniently enough to kill Baneslayer Angel, among others), and by making them sacrifice five lands you severely cut down on their ability to get back Vengevine. Seven mana is a lot, and the return of Mana Leak certainly makes this worse, but it has the power level necessary to have a deck built around it.

Limited: 2.5

This has all the same problems as a normal Wrath, but with the downside of costing seven mana. It seems difficult to really get an advantage out of casting this, though there are a few ways to do so. Finding guys with 6+ toughness isn’t too realistic, but regenerators aren’t impossible to come by. Cudgel Troll and Reassembling Skeleton both work, and you can always just try and slowroll creatures. Of course, losing 5 lands makes it hard to play the slowrolled guys, and surviving to hit seven mana without playing too many creatures is a challenge too. The card in undeniably powerful, but I definitely wouldn’t call it a bomb.

Earth Servant

Earth Servant 

Constructed: 1.0

Even if it got +1/+1 for each Mountain, this wouldn’t make it. In fact, even at +2/+2 it would still not nearly be good enough. I don’t know how on earth they could make this playable without changing it massively.

Limited: 3.0

Here’s a guy that survives Destructive Force, assuming you can keep two Mountains when all is said and done. He also is a 4/6 or 4/7 (or more), which is always going to be good enough.

Ember Hauler

Ember Hauler 

Constructed: 2.5

I wonder if this guy would have been better before M10? Even so, he is just efficient enough to see play, since at worst he gets to Shock something. Wall of Omens is annoying, but if they don’t have it then they probably need to do something about Ember Hauler, since getting hit for two every turn isn’t really an option against red. Once they do use a removal spell, welcome to value town!

Limited: 3.0

Not being able to stack damage hurts way worse in Limited, since there is infinitely more creature combat. Ember Hauler still does his job well enough, but you usually won’t get all that much of an advantage out of him. Your opponent is likely to have some creature to trade with him, and is much less likely to have to point a removal spell at him. Obviously he is still a great card, but isn’t going to get a 2-for-1 without some very odd circumstances happening.

Fiery Hellhound

Fiery Hellhound 

Constructed: 1.0

Oh, hell no!

Limited: 2.5

The mana shouldn’t be a problem in most decks, which makes this doggie a fine playable. He is actually stronger on defense, since firebreathing lets him trade with almost any ground creature, instead of just any two-power guy they feel like throwing in his way.

Fire Servant

Fire Servant 

Constructed: 1.0

This guy isn’t a very good servant. You ask for something and he brings you twice as much instead! He also is just going to die in Constructed, making him not very playable at all.

Limited: 3.0

There’s nothing wrong with a five-mana 4/3, and doubling [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] or [card]Lava Axe[/card] can get out of control. Even if you have few ways to take advantage of the [card]Furnace of Rath[/card] ability, your opponent probably won’t feel comfortable while this is in play, and take steps to remove it.

Fireball

Fireball 

Constructed: 1.0

It has been quite a while since X-spells were good in Standard, and we even have Banefire, which looks like an awesome finisher. If for some reason you wanted a Fireball effect, Comet Storm does it for much less mana (and continues to be good in Block).

Limited: 5.0

I would be hard-pressed not to take Fireball, regardless of what pack it was or what colors I was in. It’s splashable, it finishes them, and unlike Blaze, when you need to use it as removal it can hit multiple guys. If you aren’t sure whether to take Fireball or a sweet rare, just take the Fireball.

Fling

Fling 

Constructed: 1.0

If Soul’s Fire was still good enough, Fling would take its place, since Fling isn’t countered by removal. Unfortunately, the rotation of Mirrodin out of Extended has eliminated the need for either, since Arcbound Ravager and Master of Etherium are no longer around to get flung.

Limited: 1.0

This card is a trap. It looks decent, but there are so few ways to avoid getting 2 for 1’d, and its use as a finisher is somewhat dubious (doing 2 damage isn’t all that exciting). In order for Fling to be decent, you want a few Act of Treasons, which is already kind of sketchy, or a bunch of 5+ power guys. In a RG deck it is ok, but the average R/x deck won’t have enough power to really make it a reliable finisher. It definitely is a fine sideboard card, and I would bring it in against decks with a lot of removal, particularly those of the Pacifism/Ice Cage variety. I suspect this is going to be a card most people play when they shouldn’t, simply because “it’s removal”.

Goblin Balloon Brigade

Goblin Balloon Brigade 

Constructed: 1.0

Luckily, Legacy Goblins already had this available as an out to Moat, so reprinting it wasn’t that important.

Limited: 1.0

Even as a straight up 1/1 flier, this would be almost unplayable in a normal deck. In the mythical Mono-Red beatdown deck, it does get damage through, so it’s possible that you want a balloon full of Goblins. It is also a very situational sideboard card against a deck with multiple Stormfront Pegasi.

Goblin Chieftain

Goblin Chieftain 

Constructed: 2.0

I have never been impressed with Standard Goblins, since it felt like the only good cards it was playing were Siege-Gang Commander and Goblin Guide, so Chieftain is kind of a bust there. Where it does have value is in Legacy, since it is like a hard-hitting Warchief, and if you have Vial going is often even a little better.

Limited: 1.0

There are a fair amount of Goblins in the set, but for the most part they are pretty bad. Making Goblin Piker a 3/2 while your vanilla 2/2 is in play is not exactly what I want to be doing during a draft. Playing bad cards to make other bad cards less bad has never been a successful strategy (unless there is a critical mass of said cards, which there isn’t in M11).

Goblin Piker
[draft]Goblin Piker[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

Have I ever mentioned that the 1R 2/1 hasn’t been Constructed playable for almost 10 years?

Limited: 1.0

I like this one a little more than Silvercoat Lion, though I would avoid playing either. At least red decks can play a bunch of Lava Axes and Flings and commit to burning the opponent out, a strategy in which Goblin Piker fits well. Unless you are that deck, you really won’t want to play this.

Goblin Tunneler

Goblin Tunneler 

Constructed: 1.0

The current crop of Goblins has not done much to change my opinion about playing them in Standard. Maybe this is tech for the Legacy deck? Search up this with Matron to make yourPiledriver unblockable!

Limited: 1.5

I find it funny that they put all the important cards for the Bloodthrone Vampire deck in the set but the token generators, which are really the backbone. I suppose with enough Act of Treasons and Vampires you could get something going, at which point the Tunneler is ok. He is actually even fine in a normal deck, since if the board ever stalls, he has to get dealt with, and of course fits well in the super aggro red deck.

Hoarding Dragon

Hoarding Dragon 

Constructed: 1.0

There are a few things that keep this card from being good. It is definitely interesting, but the problems it has are too difficult to overcome. The first problem is that there aren’t really any artifacts that give you value, so tutoring one up isn’t all that awesome. Second, even if there were an artifact you wanted, you don’t get it until the Dragon dies. The last problem is that much of the removal in Standard exiles, and gets around the graveyard trigger. The flavor on this card is awesome, and it’s pretty close to being Constructed-worthy, but until artifacts get way more awesome it won’t make the cut.

Limited: 4.0

The text is irrelevant; this is a 4/4 flier for five mana. Of course, value is value, and if I had a Hoarding Dragon, artifacts would move up slightly in my pick order. Might as well pick up a free Juggernaut if it’s on the table!

Incite

Incite 

Constructed: 1.0

How about instead of making it attack I make it dead? There isn’t much more incite I can give you on this card; it’s pretty bad.

Limited: 0.5

No self-respecting red deck should be so low on removal that it needs to rely on this. It doesn’t even kill Blinding Mage! I think it is technically a sideboard option if you really need a way to target something to combat Phantom Beast or Ice Cage, but that’s about it.

Inferno Titan

Inferno Titan 

Constructed: 2.0

This passes the value test (if it dies immediately you still got value, in case that wasn’t clear), and is a solid threat in its own right. The effect isn’t as powerful as its undead cousin, and red isn’t very well set up to play six-drops, but as a card it is good enough to consider. Finding a deck might be difficult for this, since it doesn’t fit into any of the existing archetypes.

Limited: 4.5

There aren’t many cards better than Chandra, but this is one of them. Coming into play, eating a guy, then bashing for a ton of damage plus another guy (or two, if they are small) is ridiculous no matter which way you slice it. I find it kind of funny that Yavimaya Wurm can stop the Inferno by itself, though likely with some collateral damage.

Lava Axe

Lava Axe 

Constructed: 1.0

Sometimes I axe myself if I make too many puns, but the truth is that I lava them too much.

Limited: 1.5

This clearly helps an aggressive deck, though I don’t hate it as much as you might expect. Five damage is a lot, especially if they don’t know that it’s coming. It isn’t a great card in most midrange decks, but you could do worse. Stealing games is pretty fun, and Lava Axe does that quite well.

Leyline of Punishment

Leyline of Punishment 

Constructed: 2.0

The whole red shell game is getting pretty funny. You have Kor Firewalker, which gets shut down by red Leyline, Baneslayer Angel against Combust, and white Leyline against burn spells. A big part of red’s success is going to depend on picking the right counter-answer for their sideboard cards, with wrong guesses being punished harshly. Leyline of Punishment does at least stop Baneslayer’s life gain, though it gets shut down by Leyline of Sanctity pretty hard. I could see this as a 2 or 3 of, but 4 is definitely too many, and it all depends on how common Firewalker/Baneslayer are vs. Leyline of Sanctity.

Limited: 0.5

In the rare circumstance that you find yourself playing against a dedicated lifegain deck, I suppose you could bring this in after you win game one.

Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt 

Constructed: 5.0

Vintage is the only format where Bolt doesn’t see much play, and even there it pops up from time to time in bad decks. Lightning Bolt is one of the highest power level cards in the format, with only nostalgia and flavor really making this acceptable to be reprinted. I don’t think it breaks the format by any means, but if it wasn’t so iconic it would not be printed.

Limited: 4.0

This isn’t quite as good as Doom Blade on the splash, but it is close enough for the difference to be irrelevant. Take it high, and don’t expect even non-red players to pass this very often.

Magma Phoenix

Magma Phoenix 

Constructed: 1.0

Unwieldy and slow card advantage engines are a thing of the past; even if Forbid was around this wouldn’t be a consideration.

Limited: 4.0

The Phoenix isn’t as good as it looks, in my experience. While it is powerful and hard to stop, don’t be so focused on getting value out of it that you fall behind on the board. It damages you too, and that damage adds up quickly. I have seen multiple games where someone tries to ride the Phoenix to victory but ends up extra crispy. If you are planning on blocking a 4/4 and they kill the Phoenix and bash, you just took a ton of damage and probably don’t have time to buy back the Phoenix, leaving you in a bad spot. I’m certainly not saying it’s bad; I still stand by my rating, but be aware that it can be dangerous to depend on it.

Manic Vandal

Manic Vandal 

Constructed: 2.0

I like that red and white each have a clean and simple comes into play guy. Having access to such options makes Constructed better, and both this and War Priest of Thune are going to be sideboard-worthy for the duration of their stay in Standard. Right now, there is no need for the Vandal, but if Temple Bell gets a little too frisky, or there is a Tier 1 deck that crutches on Everflowing Chalice, we could start seeing vandalism return.

Limited: 2.0

I find it funny that there is no “may” on this guy, which fits the flavor perfectly. If you have a few good artifacts, you probably don’t want to start this guy, but in a deck without any he seems fine. In Sealed I would always play one, just because odds are they are playing at least one good target.

Prodigal Pyromancer

Prodigal Pyromancer 

Constructed: 1.0

If only he was a little more cunning, maybe he would find a way to see play.

Limited: 4.0

Pingers are always awesome, even if there isn’t much chance of getting two. Some decks get completely wrecked by this, and some only get partially wrecked. Either way, it is hard for a board containing a pinger to be on the losing side.

Pyretic Ritual

Pyretic Ritual 

Constructed: 2.5

As crappy as this card is, it is still a ritual, and the only one most formats have to work with. That alone makes it very interesting, and a little bit dangerous. Fast mana in a format without it can break some rules, and even if there is no deck built to use it now, that doesn’t preclude such a thing happening. This is better for the new Extended than Standard, since Extended still has a few combo cards available to it (Hive Mind being the chief suspect).

Limited: 0.0

Please, just play a Mountain instead.

Pyroclasm

Pyroclasm 

Constructed: 1.0

Forked Bolt has mostly taken over for Clasm, since there isn’t a Spectral Procession in the format to worry about, and all the targets have one toughness instead of two. It is comforting to know that Clasm is around, but for now I don’t see a need for it.

Limited: 3.0

Most red decks won’t have many guys that live through this, but that’s what playing around Pyroclasm is for. It shouldn’t be too hard to get even, and ideally you do better than that. Clasm isn’t ridiculous, but it is a fine card.

Reverberate

Reverberate 

Constructed: 1.0

I hope I don’t get berated for this, but I just don’t see this seeing any play. At least Twincast was blue, the color of combo. Copying spells for value just isn’t where it’s at.

Limited: 1.0

With five or more cheap spells, Reverberate seems playable. Much less than that and you are risking a dead draw too often, though keep in mind that it can be a very good sideboard card. If you have two or three spells to copy and your opponent has three or more, it all of a sudden is more than fine.

Shiv’s Embrace

Shivs Embrace 

Constructed: 1.0

I find it kind of funny that none of the other Embraces came back, not that any of them would have been relevant for Constructed. Would losing to this be getting Shivved?

Limited: 3.5

A good way around the potential aura disadvantages is to kill them, preferably rapidly. Shiv’s Embrace does that very well, with two hits usually enough to end things in your favor. It also is better the longer you wait, since they are less likely to have removal and you will have more Mountains, giving them less time to answer it.

Thunder Strike

Thunder Strike 

Constructed: 1.0

Pumping creatures is the first strike, only doing extra damage it the second, and giving an almost useless ability is the third. On second though, maybe giving first strike should be the first strike, since that’s more poetic.

Limited: 2.5

Any deck with a normal creature count won’t mind one of these, and maybe even two. Without damage stacking, this isn’t really worse than a normal giant growth, and with low toughness creatures it will often be better.

Volcanic Strength

Volcanic Strength 

Constructed: 1.0

Making guys unblockable is not a very useful ability, and having it only work against a deck full of instant-speed removal is even worse.

Limited: 2.0

+2/+2 is right on the border between playable and good, which is why this is much higher than Holy/Unholy Strength. I still don’t like the card disadvantage, but at least here you are getting something good for the risk. Plus, it is awesome in the red mirror, and I would side in as many of these as you can when playing against Mountains.

Vulshok Berserker

Vulshok Berserker 

Constructed: 1.0

Shockingly, this isn’t good enough.

Limited: 3.0

Turn three Vulshok Berserker was always an awesome play in Mirrodin draft, and the power level of that format was much higher. Even a turn four Berserker is pretty good, and will often put them on the back foot from the beginning of the game.

Wild Evocation

Wild Evocation 

Constructed: 1.0

I guess the recent success of Show and Tell has made R&D wary of cards that cheat mana costs, even when symmetrical. At six mana, there is no risk of people getting wild with Emrakul.

Limited: 0.0

I would be surprised if I needed to defend this, but stranger things have happened.

Top 5 Constructed Cards for Red

5. Leyline of Punishment
4. Pyretic Ritual
3. Ember Hauler
2. Destructive Force
1. Lightning Bolt

There is more speculation here than in other colors, with only Lightning Bolt as a solid bet to see play. I do really like Destructive Force, and think it is one of the number of interesting cards red has to work with. RDW got Ember Hauler and some potential sideboard cards, with Combust also a consideration. Lastly, Pyretic Ritual is on the short list of cards combo might be able to incorporate in the new Extended. Overall, not a bad set of cards for red.

Top 5 Commons for Limited

5. Canyon Minotaur
4. Berserkers of Blood Ridge
3. Vulshok Berserker
2. Chandra’s Outrage
1. Lightning Bolt

Red’s commons are not very deep at all. When Canyon Minotaur cracks the top five, you know you are in trouble. Red seems best as a splash color for removal (made difficult by Chandra’s Outrage costing RR) or as a janky aggro deck, which puts Lava Axe and Goblin Piker to good use. Either way, I think I’ll be staying out of it if possible.

Next up: green!

LSV

51 thoughts on “Magic 2011 Set Review – Red”

  1. As a more casual player i found M11 red not very exiting at all, limited and constructed.
    Looking at from a Spike-Johnny perspective where one looks for new and good effects for casual play, red mostly just doesn’t cut in most new sets and in M11 it just flat out disappoints.
    The only really interesting cards for me are Ember Hauler and Manic Vandal.
    Yes, Lightning Bolt is still king, but with 2 playsets of my own M11 doesn’t cater to those needs.
    Magma Phoenix looks quite cute for some nice infinite combo deck though.
    Maybe put it into a LED – Salvagers or Reveillark combo shell.

  2. I think many a red mage will consider Reverberating a sorcery speed MindSpring, but you know the extent of my Standard experience. 🙂

  3. I believe red can be good in limited when your opponent is under a lot of pressure. I like to draft RW, I put pressure with my white early drops, and then finish my opponent with arc of treason and lava axe.

  4. Manic Vandal, would have been nice if they’d have made it a goblin, I could use something like that in my standard goblins decks.

    Red lost a lot of playable cards,with manabarbs, siege-gang, earthquake and ball lightning all gone.

    I think Chandra's Spitfire may see play, especially once Ball lightning and hell’s thunder leave. I could see it as sideboard tech in a more burn intense deck, bring it in game 2 after they sideout their removal and it could be nasty.

  5. “I'm just waiting until the critical mass of Minotaurs is reached and the Didgeridoo deck begins to dominate Legacy.”

    Seems LSV hasn’t heard of Thunder Bluff yet…

  6. I won my local pre-release this weekend on the back of multiple Fling-Ox combos.

    There was even a few moments where I had a fire servant in play to serve them for a full 15.

    The card disadvantage was poor, but paired with blue for draw/scry I blew out multiple opponents from very comfortable positions.

  7. I disagree with your Fling ratings wholeheartedly.

    Ball Lightning, Hell’s Thunder, Hellspark, Magma Pheonix, Threatens, and any Firebreathing Abilities such as Fiery Hellhound and even Inferno Titan, etc, etc.

    In my opinion, Fling screams combos as well as an answer to opposing removal by turning it into more damage, in both Constructed and Limited formats. I guess we’ll have to see. (You’ll probably be right since you’re a Magic guru and I’m a lowly apprentice.)

  8. I hate M11 from everything except a cube perspective. It’s awesome for cube, I love the set!

  9. 2 days ago i made a m11 draft single elimination… i made R/B aggro at the end of the draft i had: 1 viscera seer 2 bloodthrone vampire 2 fling 3 Act of Treason and 0 rares (1 bolt 2 banshee but nothing awsome). i played the first match against U/W/b and i made 6/0 (i palyed again after the 2/0) then the second against RG aggro 7/1 and the final with another UW 2/0.
    The deck was really funny and i really love this archetype, all cards are late pickable and u can do things like sac on bloodthrone flign for 9 or bring your troll 4/3 attak for x, sac for the bloodthrone
    I never had such fun xD

  10. @Matt: The Allie guy that blows up artifacts is a goblin. And he deals damage.

    Cannot wait for FMN. I’m bringing the Destructive Force…. and cake. I cannot wait to sleeve these up with Ajani’s and Oracle of Mul Daya’s.

  11. I can see Destructive force with a home in a t2 version of the UGR ramp deck. It has a very powerful effect and is mad lopsided with a planeswalker

  12. I guess opening fireball + chandra + bolt + ancient hellkite made me think red was good at the prerelease

  13. Also kind of surprised at Fling ratings. In limited, it’s a blow out card and at it’s very worst, it’s still removal that isn’t too narrow. In constructed, I find it hard not to make it into RDW decks with Kiln Fiend being the very very threatening. Lightning Bolt, Lightning Bolt, swing for 7 with the Fiend, then Fling for 7. 20 damage gg? Obviously it’s kind of lucky but basic variations of this are pretty easy to come by. Only things that make Fling a lot less appealing are White Leyline and Mana Leak.

  14. “The only decks that really want Act of Treason are the super aggressive decks”

    I’m not sure any other red decks exist in this format (in draft), so Act of Treason should rate higher than 1.0. In fact, if I’m going to be stuck playing red, I’d probably prefer the Lava Axes and Acts of Treason of the world to Berserkers of Blood Ridge, since they’re a better fit for the janky aggro strategy that is pretty much your only hope.

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  16. “Timmy, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”
    “I think it’s time for Timmy to get back to the cabin now…”

  17. Yeah R/B aggro deck with Persecutors and Fling has some potential for turn 5 damage overloads.

  18. Chandra’s Spitfire is crazy with Raid Bombardment, though a deck featuring both of those sounds like a mess.

  19. Vulshok Berserker’s rating should read “Unshokingly”, not “Shockingly”.

    Also, I noticed that Ye Olde Wildfire Deck played a lot of mana accel with Fire Diamonds and such. With the only accelerants in the format being Everflowing Chalice (I swear I almost wrote “Mind Stone”) and Pyretic Ritual, is Destructive Force really fast enough to get there? I’d like to play a deck running Chandra Ablaze and Destructive Force, since you really can’t answer Chandra Ablaze when you have no lands and all your guys die to her +1, but I think it might be too hard on the mana.

  20. The red commons outside of bolt are pretty terrible. The creatures especially this time around are pretty terrible. Though that’s probably the norm for red.

  21. Fling is near Bolt. Pump my whoever and damage to you. For two mana you can cheap-Lava Axe them. In response to Doom Blade, Fling. Pyroclasm, I fling my Arc Runner. Pump my Titan, hit for 7, Fling for the win. Fling fling fling.

    Emrakul, attack, fling.

  22. I was hoping that one of the things that they would correct from M10 to M11 was the playability of red in draft. My hopes were pretty much dashed. Seeing that everyone steals your best cards (Fireball and Lightning Bolt) and splashes them in non-red decks, you cannot count on anything good ever being passed to you in red. And the rest of what you are left with is horrible compared to what other colors have available. Red is a trap, and it’s strictly a splash color. Sad.

  23. @Fox Murdoch
    If you attacked with Emrakul and didn’t win, something has already gone horribly, horribly wrong. I could see Crusher, attack, fling being okay.

    I like fling for use when the creature is going to die anyway and the damage it would deal in combat is irrelevant. Fling is good against control, even though they are getting 2-1 out of it.

    I did have an outlier situation over the weekend that fling solved for my opponent though. Board stalemated (4 turns) with Nantuko Shade, Royal Assassin, and some irrelevant dudes on my side vs blinding mage and a big flyer on his side. My attack, pump the Shade, he taps with Blinding Mage in response, I Royal Assassin the Mage, he Flings the Mage at the Assassin. Normal game of Magic resumes.

  24. Yeah, I’m not too impressed with red in M11 either. Without LB and FB I don’t think anybody would ever play red in Limited. :<

  25. “Oh, hell no!”
    Awesome. Easily my favorite rating out of this batch.

    @ eldrwyrm : A nitpick… Why would you pump your shade precombat? Make the Mage tap down first, so you don’t waste mana. If for some reason he doesn’t, it’s not like you can’t still pump before damage.

  26. All you need to do is splash white, steal some fliers, an inspired charge, and grab up late thunder strikes. Those or an Axe allow you to keep beating extremely hard.

  27. At my Prerelease, I ran RB with Spitfire, Flame Servant, Act of Treason, Fling, Outrage, and Lava Axe to a 4-1, 3rd-place finish. I would have run the Hoarding Dragon, too, but it made my curve too red-heavy, and I would’ve had to cut the Corrupt and 2x Quag Sickness.

    Servant out, Axe you, won me 2 games, as did Servant + Act your Serra + Fling it in your face.

  28. Same as Sorkargg. I more than happily chose red as the main color because of those cards and I guess that everything else that came with them (Fling, Berserkers of blood ridge…) gave a better impression than they should have. As for draft, I have no idea of what to do if I ever open a first pick Inferno Titan or Chandra. is it worth risking to play red even if the rest of the good cards get hate or greed picked by the rest?

  29. So last week at the pre-release I had an epic (possibly even Mythic) play when on turn 5 my opponent casts a Baneslayer, passes, and I draw my fifth land to be able to cast Act of Treason, swing for 5, gain 5, and Fling for another 5. I was playing a UR deck and light on kill conditions so chose/had to run the combo, and it payed off!! Once in awhile bad cards make good plays.

  30. I guess the fact that I love Fling and will always try to rationalize fitting it into my draft decks is why I’m not a better player. But no reprinted card in this set made me happier when it showed up in the spoiler. Only the timeshifted Uncle Istvan brought a bigger smile.

  31. I like the fact that Chandra’s Spitfire + Triskelion = 13 points of damage. I agree it probably won’t see play in constructed but in limited, given the right deck, could be a house. Its not worth it to bolt your opponent just to deal 3 extra damage unless that means game, but if you draft 1 with a prodigal pyromancer, I think that is a fair deal.

  32. Quick defend your statement about fling although I don’t agree with, but not for the same reasons as the above posts. I think it deserves a 2.5 as a role playing finsher card that will find a home. Soul fire could be fizzled by other removal plus the format has never been dominated by fatties for it to be great. I do think it could be the break persector needed and uncounterable way to remove him that can easily do lethal. Also when playing higher end threats its easier to make there removals blank with this on the attack to punish. Granted that isn’t vaule in card advantage, but depending on the fatty or persistant creature since creatures sure have been getting better I think it has a legit shot. I have no interest in the the RDW shenagains in the above posts though as I feel they are harder to piece togther and more mana intensive then the devasting summons/ bushwacker combo.

  33. Although I won some games with Fling, I know it is a conditional, often bad card:

    1. For any average limited nongreen deck, creatures with 4 power are scarce and mostly rare bombs, and they are usually better alive than sacrificied unless you’re going to win the game and it’s unlikely that if a large bomb is in play you aren’t already winning.

    2. The Chandra’s spitfire, Fire servant and tons of burn / Prodigal Pyromancer deck won’t happen very often, and if you don’t have all those cards in the battlefield, Fling will be an almost dead card.

    3. This leaves the green deck, which is the only one that really can exploit it to the fullest with the big creatures at all rarities, which is exactly what LSV said.

  34. “Have you ever seen a groen man naked?” the Airplane refrence was made the article for me.

    Keep it up!

  35. “Sometimes I axe myself if I make too many puns, but the truth is that I lava them too much.”

    This was clever, IMHO.

  36. The Red commons are hard to rate because the bad cards get good in high density.

    – Arc Runner + Act of Treason in the same turn, stealing the only blocker.
    – Chipping away at life totals with the Goblin Tunneler
    -> a big Act of Treason turn somewhere along the way
    -> Lava Axe and Fling for the finish.
    – And of course, Act of Treason + Fling.

    I think Act of Treason and other “desperate damage” spells can be very good in a Boros deck as well.

  37. I disagree with your comment about Lightning Bolt. With the improvement in creatures of late, Lightning Bolt is no longer a ridiculous card. It used to be that the Bolt ate basically any 3 and 4 drops. That’s no longer the case at all. Creatures are to the point now that Bolt is no longer way above the curve.

  38. The only one I disagree with you on is Reverberate. Throwing 2 of them in a 2-color deck (Black and Red) can just give you -so- much edge. Double Blightning? Reverberate -their- Blightning? Reverberate their Cruel Ultimatum? There are so many ways that you can use this to your opponents severe disadvantage that it is almost uncanny.

  39. Are casual players really reading LSV columns for insight?

    Really? How’s that working out for you?

  40. LSV ususally hates about 95% of an entire set and just likes a few spot things here or there, that’s it.

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