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Magic 2013 Set Review – Red

Constructed

5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].

4.0: Format staple. [card]Mana Leak[/card]. [card]Moorland Haunt[/card].

3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]. [card]Primeval Titan[/card]. [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card].

3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Gut Shot[/card]. [card]Tempered Steel[/card].

2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Think Twice[/card]. [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card].

2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Celestial Purge[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why is obviously important.)

1.0 It has seen play once. [card]One with Nothing[/card]. (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%)

As usual, I caution you to both look at the rating and read the comments, since even cards rated the same might have very different evaluations. Enjoy!

[draft]Arms Dealer[/draft]

Arms Dealer

Constructed: 1.0

Three-mana for a 1/1 isn’t a good deal, even if that 1/1 arms you with the power to sacrifice Goblins to kill their creatures.

Limited: 3.0

By itself, Arms Dealer is not a terrible card. You end up paying five mana in two different chunks, and can chump block a guy and kill another medium-sized guy. Add in a couple Goblins and you have the makings of an engine, one that lets you trade your 10th picks for their 1st picks.

[draft]Bladetusk Boar[/draft]

Bladetusk Boar

Constructed: 1

Way too boring for Constructed.

Limited: 3.0

This little piggy is going to go to the market every turn, and will often require prompt action from your opponent. The two toughness isn’t a big deal, since he is mostly unblockable, although dying to many of the common removal spells is an annoying quality for a four-drop.

[draft]Chandra’s Fury[/draft]

Chandra’s Fury

Constructed: 1.0

This won’t be played in Constructed, but I’m not going to be the one that tells Chandra — I’ve seen what she does when she gets mad.

Limited: 2.0

There are two things going on here, and not every deck is interested in both. Pinging their team for one is good enough that even reactive decks want it, but four damage is pretty hit or miss. If your deck doesn’t care about the [card]Lava Axe[/card] half, don’t be afraid to side this out against a deck without many 1-toughness guys (and certainly don’t play multiples of this).

[draft]Cleaver Riot[/draft]

Cleaver Riot

Constructed: 1.0

There are plenty of cleaver things I could say, but instead I’m saying this.

Limited: 3.5

Even a bad [card]Overrun[/card] is still an Overrun, and I for one am happy that this is what we get instead. I know it’ll make Marshall sad, and I’m sure he’ll be complaining on Limited Resources about not getting to play against Overrun. Hopefully he’ll go bananas over this instead, because this really does a good amount of damage. It requires a little more from you than Overrun, with double strike needing reasonably high power before it pays dividends, but doing some work just makes the card a little more fair. I like Overruns where they get to chump with everything and survive; they still probably lose, but at least the possibility of a comeback exists.

[draft]Craterize[/draft]

Craterize

Constructed: 1.0

The chances that this gets played are demolished by the presence of many strictly better options.

Limited: 0.5

I doubt I’ll ever side this in, but in the off-chance I play against the five-color no-fixing guy, I’ll be ready.

[draft]Crimson Muckwader[/draft]

Crimson Muckwader

Constructed: 2.0

These guys are costed pretty aggressively. A two-mana 3/2 with (expensive) regeneration is no joke, and if/when the shocklands come back, fulfilling the requirements shouldn’t be too hard. Until they do, I’m not sure how reliably you get the bonus, since this only makes it if it’s online almost the entire time.

Limited: 3.5

On the whole, this is just a little worse than [card]Sedge Troll[/card], but Sedge Troll was a huge bomb back in Alpha/Alpha/Alpha draft. Some trolls even played it in Vintage, not that I’m advising such a thing. The base stats are already enough to make it a midrange playable, so don’t count on wheeling this even if you are the only black-red drafter.

[draft]Dragon Hatchling[/draft]

Dragon Hatchling

Constructed: 1.0

Before you hatch any plans involving this, remember that it’s a zero-power creature for two mana. Spending your turns to hit them for four or five is not likely to yield the results you desire.

Limited: 1.5

This being a two-drop is deceptive. The ability is powerful, as it’s a flying [card]Fireball[/card] for however many Mountains you have, but I can’t imagine you will be pumping it in the first five or six turns of the game. I wouldn’t want multiples, and would need at least 10 Mountains, but I would consider it.

[draft]Fervor[/draft]

Fervor

Constructed: 1.0

[card]Fires of Yavimaya[/card] might not be my fervorite card, but it still goes a lot further than this one. Paying three mana and a card to give your squad haste is just way less impressive than playing a bunch of good haste guys (of which there are many, these days).

Limited: 1.0

While you might not have the option of just playing haste guys like you do in Constructed, it’s still not worth trading a card for this effect. If you have awesome creatures, you’d rather have another creature or a solid spell, not a card that lets you attack a turn earlier.

[draft]Firewing Phoenix[/draft]

Firewing Phoenix

Constructed: 2.0

For those who really want to grind, we have the Firewing Phoenix. You do get extra cards out of this, they just cost a million mana, so this strikes me more as a sideboard card for matchups that usually last forever.

Limited: 4.0

Normally, if they had a card with this text box, I’d advise against trading with it. Just ignore it, avoid getting into fights, and the damage is minimized. Unfortunately, a four-power flier is impossible to ignore, so you are going to have to keep incinerating guys or blocking with your face. Neither plan is likely to succeed.

[draft]Flames of the Firebrand[/draft]

Flames of the Firebrand

Constructed: 2.5

[card]Arc Trail[/card] is pretty sweet, and this compares to it reasonably well. Being able to deal three in one chunk, or one to three different targets are both solid upgrades, so it isn’t like your mana is just getting burned up for nothing. Arc Trail’s been a good sideboard card and sometimes main deck material, and this will be too. When they compete for slots, the composition of the metagame will, as always, determine the winner (and a 2/2 split isn’t out of the question either).

Limited: 3.5

Has there been a Limited format where the uncommon multi-target burn spell hasn’t been a solid first pick? This will always kill one thing, sometimes kill two, and if you are very lucky/skilled, blow up three.

[draft]Furnace Whelp[/draft]

Furnace Whelp

Constructed: 1.0

Adding two mana and a little power and toughness doesn’t make the Dragon hatch into a playable. It needs a little maw time in the furnace.

Limited: 3.5

Overpaying by one for firebreathing is an investment well worth the cost. This acts like a normal flier until you decide to just start hitting them for seven, and at the worst it can trade up for a much bigger creature.

[draft]Goblin Battle Jester[/draft]

Goblin Battle Jester

Constructed: 1.0

The funniest joke is the thought of him being played in Constructed.

Limited: 2.5

His rating goes up substantially if you are really aggressive, which should be no surprise to those who remember [card]Intimidator Initiate[/card] from Shadowmoor. I’m more of the blocking type, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I passed on this more often than not.

[draft]Hamletback Goliath[/draft]

Hamletback Goliath

Constructed: 1.0

He’s back, and he’s still not getting anywhere near Constructed.

Limited: 2.0

An Enormous Baloth is an Enormous Baloth, so some decks will definitely appreciate the finisher. Seven-drops without evasion are not for everyone, and this is certainly not a bomb.

[draft]Kindled Fury[/draft]

Kindled Fury

Constructed: 1.0

Reviewing this kindles my fury, as there is no chance this ever is relevant in Constructed.

Limited: 2.5

Combat tricks that only cost one mana are usually solid, and this fits the bill perfectly. As long as you have a reasonable number of creatures with 3+ power, it won’t be hard to successfully trade this for a card (and one that costs more mana, at that).

[draft]Krenko, Mob Boss[/draft]

Krenko, Mob Boss

Constructed: 2.5

Could Krenko singlehandedly, with the help of many filthy hands, bring back Goblins in Constructed? He’s powerful enough, scales extremely quickly, and as long as he’s got some good friends, the (Siege) gang might get back together. In a world where you can wait until your 4-drop becomes active, this ability is good enough that Krenko could be sweet.

Limited: 4.0

I feel like it shouldn’t be difficult to imagine what Krenko does, and why he’s good at it. Just play the card and prepare to collect your winnings, assuming you aren’t just dying to fliers.

[draft]Krenko’s Command[/draft]

Krenko’s Command

Constructed: 2.0

If you need fodder for your Goblin deck, here you go. This is one of those synergy cards that sometimes get there, depending on what else is around to help it out. The creature type of the tokens is likely going to need to be relevant, elsewise you can get better creatures for roughly the same cost.

Limited: 2.0

A token offering for aggressive decks and a way to rustle up some blockers for control decks. What’s not to love? You know, besides the fact that it isn’t super powerful and gets stopped by a single 2/2.

[draft]Magmaquake[/draft]

Magmaquake

Constructed: 2.5

This is awesome. A board sweeper that doesn’t damage players and kills planeswalkers is exactly the sort of thing I’m interested in, even if I do have to play many red sources to run it. I know that die-hard burn mages are disappointed by it not killing players, but that’s why I’m excited. Control decks have traditionally been hard-pressed to answer ‘walkers, so seeing sweet answers to them makes me happy. I can’t imagine aggro decks will want this in any capacity, especially with [card bonfire of the damned]Bonfire[/card] as an option. Decks that can’t use the damage from Bonfire to good effect might be though, and I intend to find out. Plus, it’s an instant, which is nice.

Limited: 3.5

What I said about [card]Mutilate[/card] applies here too, though there are some differences. It’s way easier to control X on Magmaquake, which is certainly a plus. That is unfortunately balanced by the fact that it doesn’t hit fliers, and hitting planeswalkers is a poor substitute. Against some decks, this just won’t do what you need it to do. Still, it’s a controllable Wrath, which are always good.

[draft]Mindclaw Shaman[/draft]

Mindclaw Shaman

Constructed: 2.5

This card is powerful. Not only do you get a [card]Duress[/card] (that can’t hit planeswalkers), you get to draw that spell and a free [card]Black Lotus[/card] with which to cast it, as well as a 2/2. Granted, you are paying five mana for that privilege, but if you hit something impactful, this is really sweet. It does strike me more as a sideboard card, what with the prevalence of creature decks these days, but it still seems extremely potent. In other formats, I can only imagine what it would be like to snag a [card]Cruel Ultimatum[/card] with this… Cube, anyone?

Limited: 3.0

The potential for a blowout is high enough here that I’d always maindeck it, and even go so far as to pick it early. Worst comes to worst, you are left with a 2/2, and if you steal a removal spell, it’s the easiest three-for-one outside of [card]Ancestral Recall[/card].

[draft]Mogg Flunkies[/draft]

Mogg Flunkies

Constructed: 2.0

Mogg Flunkies inhabit a space similar to [card]Stormblood Berserker[/card]. They both need the assistance of other creatures to function, and obviously have very similar stats. The Berserker is a little tougher to block, but Flunkies teams up better with another copy of itself, as well as coming out as a 3/3 no matter what. That lets it combine with a haste creature, such as [card]Chandra’s Phoenix[/card], where the Berserker has to wait a turn. The obvious vulnerability of Flunkies to removal is the biggest strike against them, but there is a chance they get past that and see play anyway. What they won’t do is make mono-red good; they might be part of a good mono-red deck, but there will need to be something better for it to hang its hopes and dreams on.

Limited: 2.5

Creature-light decks are clearly gambling by playing this, but any deck with 16+ guys is going to want as many Flunkies as it can get its hand on, assuming a good percentage of those creatures are cheap. You need a good curve anyways, Flunkies or not, so as long as you are drafting normally you should be fine. Flunkies also gets really degenerate in multiples, and the more you have, the more you want.

[draft]Reckless Brute[/draft]

Reckless Brute

Constructed: 1.0

Isn’t it unfair? I’m good at Constructed, and I’ve been described as both these words — yet this guy just has no shot.

Limited: 2.0

What else are you going to do with a 3/1 haste guy besides attack, anyway? If blocking is one of your goals, look elsewhere. If activating your [card]Mogg Flunkies[/card] is what you want, this fits the bill perfectly.

[draft]Rummaging Goblin[/draft]

Rummaging Goblin

Constructed: 1.0

When rummaging through cards, looking for playables, I suggest you keep going.

Limited: 3.0

It’s going to take a lot more than this to make Looter bad. Even costing three and discarding first doesn’t do the trick, because I still will pick this early.

[draft]Searing Spear[/draft]

Searing Spear

Constructed: 2.5

If you need [card]Incinerate[/card]s 5-8, here you go. Once Incinerate rotates, clearly things get better for the Spear, but it will see some play before then.

Limited: 3.0

I’ll spear you the details — This is good in Limited.

[draft]Slumbering Dragon[/draft]

Slumbering Dragon

Constructed: 2.0

Don’t wake the Dragon! An 8/8 for one mana is certainly worth waiting for, and wait you shall. You can cheat by casting [card]Increasing Savagery[/card], if you want, since either way you are getting your hopes crushed by [card]Doom Blade[/card]. This does fight against hordes of small creatures reasonably well, though they then get to chump with their [card]Lingering Souls[/card] tokens once this wakes up. This card is powerful enough to keep in mind, perhaps as a sweet sideboard card against decks with damage-based removal.

Limited: 3.0

As powerful as this is, it is pretty hit-or-miss. If you draw it too late, there’s a good chance it just straight up does nothing, though that’s balanced by how broken it is on turn one. They do get a warning very far in advance that they need to save their removal, so there will be no baiting out removal with your worse creatures — but some decks just won’t be able to kill it anyway.

[draft]Smelt[/draft]

Smelt

Constructed: 2.0

If [card]Crush[/card] is a card that gets played occasionally, Smelt is clearly relevant. It’s nice seeing this upgrade, especially if red truly is a color that is good at destroying artifacts.

Limited: 0.5

I always like picking up this type of card when I can, because you never know when you need to side one in.

[draft]Thundermaw Hellkite[/draft]

Thundermaw Hellkite

Constructed: 3.5

BOOM! The king is here, with this card flying in to grab top honors when it comes to the title of “best creature in the set”. Thundermaw Hellkite beats for a ton of hasted damage, kills all sorts of little flying guys, and is still incredibly efficient. [card]Lingering Souls[/card] isn’t the boogeyman it was a couple months ago, so Hellkite might not immediately be insane, but this will have a huge impact on Constructed while it’s legal. The format is a bit hostile to large creatures while [card]Vapor Snag[/card], [card]Mana Leak[/card], and [card]Doom Blade[/card] are all in circulation — but give it a couple months and we shall be singing a different tune.

Limited: 4.5

This is a helluva kite, and unsurprisingly is insanely good in Limited. I’d advise you to take the Dragon and be happy.

[draft]Volcanic Geyser[/draft]

Volcanic Geyser

Constructed: 1.0

There are a plethora of great X-spells available for Standard play right now. This is not one of them.

Limited: 3.5

I actually find that people overrate X-spells. Yes, this is great, and yes, you should probably take it, but they aren’t the end-all be-all in Limited. [card]Fireball[/card] was, but Fireball could kill multiple things (and don’t get me started on [card]Rolling Thunder[/card]). The most likely output for this card is paying six mana to kill a 4/4, or something along those lines. I get that you can kill them, and with an X-spell in your deck you are almost always drawing live to just win the game once it goes late; but don’t start thinking this is better than [card]Talrand’s Invocation[/card], for example.

[draft]Wild Guess[/draft]

Wild Guess

Constructed: 2.0

I’m going to take a wild guess, and say that this card is going to be part of a reanimator engine. This, [card]Faithless Looting[/card], and [card]Unburial Rites[/card] all combine quite well, and that’s where I expect the majority of the play to be. As a pure card-filtering spell, this isn’t horrible either, even if the mana cost is somewhat restrictive. I’m a fan of increased cardflow in red, and it makes me think that a red-based control deck is going to be a very real thing.

Limited: 3.0

Assuming that double-red isn’t a huge problem, I don’t see why you wouldn’t always run this. It smooths things out lategame, digs for your bombs, and lets you justify horrible keeps.

[draft]Worldfire[/draft]

Worldfire

Constructed: 2.0

Nine mana is probably an appropriate cost for this. It’s extremely powerful, and as was pointed out to Patrick, [card]Thragtusk[/card] plus this is about as close to an instant win as you get. It is kind of unfortunate that a deck designed to reliably hit nine mana is probably not going to be all that adept at starting over from nothing (assuming you just have to pull the trigger without a Thragtusk), and [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] doesn’t even let you mise a win. Any card with this text box is worth looking at, and this is by far the most playable of the wacky red expensive sorceries that we’ve seen in the last couple years.

Limited: 0.0

I admit, it would be extremely sweet to win with this. I’m not sure how you do that, besides just getting lucky, but go for it.

Top 5 Red Commons

5. [card]Bladetusk Boar[/card] 4. [card]Mogg Flunkies[/card] 3. [card]Rummaging Goblin[/card] 2. [card]Turn to Slag[/card] 1. [card]Searing Spear[/card]

I could easily see myself picking Mogg Flunkies over anything but Searing Spear, but in the absence of deck-specific knowledge, Turn to Slag and Rummaging Goblin are both fairly safe picks. Bladetusk Boar, [card]Fire Elemental[/card], and a few of the other guys are all pretty interchangeable, but I’d say the Boar is generically the most powerful. I have to say, I’m impressed with the creature quality present in this set, with red and black both getting some real creatures this time around.

Top 5 Cards for Constructed

5. [card]Magmaquake[/card] 4. [card]Krenko, Mob Boss[/card] 3. [card]Mindclaw Shaman[/card] 2. [card]Flames of the Firebrand[/card] 1. [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card]

Red got some sweet ones here. Besides Thundermaw, which seems absurd, red got a couple new burn spells, a really interesting sweeper, a potential build-around for Goblins decks, and even a sick sideboard card in Mindclaw Shaman. I like the range, with red getting a diverse array of tools instead of just a bunch of burn spells.

Green will be up come Sunday, so I’ll save my parting thoughts until then!

LSV

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