Magic Origins Constructed Review – Red

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Ratings Scale

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Siege Rhino. Courser of Kruphix. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Stormbreath Dragon. Seeker of the Way.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Chained to the Rocks. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Perilous Vault. Heir of the Wilds.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Naturalize. Savage Knuckleblade. Sandstorm.) 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.)

Abbot of Keral Keep

Constructed: 3.0

I like Ire Shaman, but I’m afraid it’s about to get blanked. Abbot of Keral Keep does a very similar thing at a cheaper cost, and that’s usually a bad sign for the more expensive card. Casting this on turn two lets you attack for 3 if you play a Hordeling Outburst, and later in the game it’s only two mana to get your card if you can afford to play everything in your deck. I think Abbot’s prowess in the early game and the late game makes it a better choice, and one good enough to see Constructed play.

Avaricious Dragon

Constructed: 2.0

It’s a trap! You have to be real greedy to cast this on turn 4, and even casting it later is taking your life into your hands (or more accurately, betting your hand on its life). If you can play this with zero cards in hand, it is a threat, and the power level makes me take notice, but I’m not in a hurry to cast this or add it to any deck that isn’t full of 1- and 2-mana spells only. I can see dragon this out of the sideboard for matchups that are short on removal, as long as enough such matchups exist.

Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh // Chandra, Roaring Flame

Constructed: 3.0

Chandra is an efficient damage machine that turns into a threatening planeswalker. Getting a good source of damage that flips into a planeswalker that can kill a small creature or pressure the opponent is not a bad deal for 3 mana. You have to be very aggressive to want Chandra, so look for her to make an impact in mono-red aggro decks. She is another 3-drop that requires an immediate answer, like Rabblemaster, but it only takes one to stick for the opponent to be in a world of hurt. You can also intentionally not flip Chandra, and use her to deal 2-3 damage per turn cycle, split up so she doesn’t ignite.

Chandra’s Ignition

Constructed: 2.0

Speaking of igniting, this is an interesting card if the right conditions exist. A deck with enough 4+ power creatures is step 1, with step 2 being a matchup that lends itself to creature stalls and is preferably light on removal. Those are some specific conditions, but keeping niche cards in mind is always a wise idea.

Dragon Fodder

Constructed: 3.0

This will continue to show up in Jeskai Tokens and mono-red decks, though it being in Origins doesn’t really change much.

Embermaw Hellion

Constructed: 2.0

5 is a lot of mana for a creature that just dies to removal, which means that this has to do a lot of work before it has a shot of seeing play. Dealing 3-4 damage the turn you play it is a thing, and making all your burn spells burn that much hotter is also quite interesting. I’m not sure how you get this to survive, and if you can figure that out, Embermaw Hellion could be a good finisher.

Exquisite Firecraft

Constructed: 3.5

Sigh. I’m going to die to this many times with counterspells in hand, I just know it. This is priced to move, and kills plenty of creatures even when the opponent isn’t low enough to get burned out. All that and an immunity to counterspells you aren’t even paying for makes this a great card, and one that will heavily impact Standard.

Fiery Impulse

Constructed: 3.5

We now have our choice of Wild Slash with upside, and my first impulse is to run this one in all but the most aggressive decks. Not being able to hit players is a real drawback, but dealing 3 damage for one mana is very strong. Can you believe that at one point we got to deal 3 damage to a creature or player for one mana, and in Standard no less? This is going to change which 3-toughness creatures show up, and will be the Shock of choice after board unless the Phoenix count gets so high that Magma Spray has a resurgence.

Flameshadow Conjuring

Constructed: 2.0

Tapping out for this and not adding to the board is a big cost, so whatever it is that you are copying better be awesome. There are plenty of good enters-the-battlefield abilities running around, and the way to make use of this is to collect a big group of creatures with those abilities and see if that works. I don’t like this as an aggro card, but the idea of this as a value engine could have merit.

Ghirapur Gearcrafter

Constructed: 2.0

When I see cards like this, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, and Thopter Spy Network, the gears really start turning. This is probably the weak link, especially given the seemingly-superior Thopter Engineer, but you never know when you want 5+ copies of a good effect. You don’t quite get enough value from this card by itself, but synergy makes even the most innocuous cards into cogs in a very effective machine, and humbler cards than this have done busted things.

Goblin Glory Chaser

Constructed: 2.5

I may not be in the market for a 1/1 for 1, but plenty of people (and Goblins) certainly are. 1-drops fare a lot better in Constructed, as you can build a linear deck with them in mind, and that includes ways to get them through. One hit and this becomes a real card, and the investment is very low. Goblin Piledriver also makes this more appealing, and the Piledriver effect will make every new Goblin get a second look.

Goblin Piledriver

Constructed: 3.0

A potential 5-power creature for 2 mana is not dismissed lightly. How good Goblin Piledriver is will mainly depend on what sort of removal is getting played and what the other Goblins end up doing. Dragon Fodder, Hordeling Outburst, Goblin Rabblemaster and a variety of 1-drop Goblins indicate that there is a deck in the making, so it’s likely this will drive plenty of piles. It’s also a pretty comical card against mono-blue if that becomes a deck again, which is especially funny because the protection from blue part of this is so completely shoehorned in.

Mage-Ring Bully

Constructed: 2.0

This too is a 3-power attacker for 2 mana, and may not be as bad as it looks. Despite the fact that I don’t advocate playing this card in Limited, any 2-drop that can hit for 3-4 damage is worth considering, and the drawback of having to attack is lessened when the card goes into a deck that is planning on attacking every turn regardless. He’s no Seeker of the Way, but red doesn’t always get the best creatures.

Magmatic Insight

Constructed: 2.5

There may be a Life from the Loam deck with this in Modern, as one mana is a pretty low cost. Building your deck with this in mind is not hard to do, as the answer is “play more lands,” though I don’t think this is doing enough to warrant just adding it to random 26-land decks and hoping it works out.

Molten Vortex

Constructed: 3.0

I’m really excited for this card. It’s powerful, efficient, and has a lot of potential in a deck built around delve cards in Standard. It might even make a Life from the Loam deck better in Modern, as it is a little cheaper than Seismic Assault to get going. It ends up being more expensive, but you don’t have to build an RRR mana base, though an RR mana base is probably not that different in the end. I’m more interested in the Standard applications, as this effect is new, and I can see a deck with Vortex, Magmatic Insight, and Treasure Cruise being pretty spicy.

Pia and Kiran Nalaar

Constructed: 3.5

Forget Whirler Rogue, here’s Thopter-Gang Commander. Chandra had some powerful forbears, and they are good enough to see play even without a whole lot of other synergy. Having other random artifacts in your deck is definitely good, but if you need a strong 4-drop, I think this card could be a good candidate. It drops 4 power on to the board, and being spread out among 3 creatures makes it very resistant to removal. The tokens even fly, and the activated ability is a powerful addition that you basically aren’t paying for. This being legendary does matter somewhat, but you can still just jam 2 or 3 without fear, and some decks will gladly play 4.

Scab-Clan Berserker

Constructed: 2.0

Given the popularity of random green monsters, this feels more like a sideboard card than a maindeck one to me. It looks like a total beating against UB-type decks, as it deals 4 damage if it gets one hit in, and straight up wins the game if they can’t kill it. There are some metagames where this could be a maindeck card, but I suspect Courser will have to rotate before that becomes likely.

Smash to Smithereens

Constructed: 2.0

This has been a smashing success in Modern sideboards, and given the new Thopter theme, it’s a good card to have on hand for Standard. Punishing people who rely on artifacts could be worth a few sideboard slots, and red decks like that their sideboard removal spells still deal damage.

Thopter Engineer

Constructed: 2.5

I like the idea of this card. Getting a 1/3 and a 1/1 flier for 3 mana isn’t unreasonable, and giving the 1/1 plus any subsequent artifacts haste might be enough to engineer an actual artifact deck. The curve of this into Pia and Kiran Nalaar sounds pretty nice, and isn’t that hard to pull off. How good this is will mainly depend on how good an artifact-based deck ends up being, with this as a solid enabler.

Titan’s Strength

Constructed: 2.5

This has shown up in a couple decks here and there, so I guess there’s nothing wrong with having it stick around a bit longer.

Top 5 Red Cards

5. Molten Vortex

4. Goblin Piledriver

3. Fiery Impulse

2. Pia and Kiran Nalaar

1. Exquisite Firecraft

Only four of red’s top 5 cards deal damage, which is below average. Red actually got a solid selection here, with some good damage spells, good threats, and even some interesting engine cards.


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