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Rise of the Eldrazi Set Review – Red

 

Unsurprisingly, Red got a bunch of burn spells, most of which are actually quite interesting. Red mages now have a whole toolbox of damaging spells to choose from, all depending on what they are trying to accomplish. Red also got a very dangerous card in Devastating Summons, which fits Red’s all-in mentality perfectly. That isn’t all, so let’s get to the cards, with the rating scale 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%)

 

Akoum Boulderfoot 

Constructed: 1.0

I was trying to think of how much damage this would need to deal to be good in Constructed, and I think the number I settled on was five. One is a far cry from that, meaning this guy will be cooling his heels on the sidelines.

Limited: 2.0

Sparkmage Apprentice just got quite the upgrade. Instead of playing a Searing Touch that has a 1/1 attached, you are now playing a 4/5 that has a Searing Touch attached. The Boulderfoot might be one of the less powerful 6+ drops, but if you don’t have a high end, he works just fine.

 

Battle Rampart 

Constructed: 1.0

Battle is one thing this Wall will not be seeing much of, at least not in 60-card decks.

Limited: 1.5

If you have a ton of really awesome creatures, the Rampart makes your draws way more aggressive. It still kind of sucks in its own, but the potential for nut draws makes it good in some decks. Hitting with an Annihilator guy before they get a chance to Narcolepsy it is a big game.

 

Battle-Rattle Shaman 

Constructed: 1.0

The only thing this really has going for it is a kind of cool name, but if that was all it took to make a Constructed playable, Legends would have been the best set ever.

Limited: 2.0

The Shaman is a lot better than I first thought when I saw him. If you have an evasive guy, he essentially swings for two a turn, and on many boards the +2/+0 lets you get through when you otherwise wouldn’t. Not every deck will want him, but he fits in more decks than you might think.

 

Brimstone Mage 

Constructed: 1.0

Cunning Sparkmage #5-8?

I think not. By the time you load this cannon, either they kill him or the game is over, neither of which sounds especially appealing. I like giving them fire and brimstone as much as the next guy, but this is not exactly how you want to go about doing so.

Limited: 3.5

Pingers are awesome, even ones that take two turns and seven mana to get ready. If they don’t have removal, they can’t exactly play a 1-toughness guy into a level zero Brimstone Mage, so just by playing him on turn three you limit their plays, even if you aren’t intending on leveling him up. Once you start throwing three-point fireballs, the game shouldn’t last very long.

 

Brood Birthing 

Constructed: 2.0

Any card that can generate more mana than its casting cost is worth keeping in mind, even if it is as narrow as this. You obviously need a ton of ways to make sure you have the first Spawn, since casting Brood Birthing for one is pretty miserable, but this looks to be an important part of Spawn-centric decks. I’m not sure what such decks are trying to accomplish, though casting something like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn does seem like a worthy goal. Nest Invader looks like a perfectly reasonable Magic card, and even Kozilek’s Predator and Emrakul’s Hatcher seem fine in a focused deck. If you are trying to go nuts, Brood Birthing will likely be featured.

Limited: 1.5

Kind of the same deal for Limited. If you have a bunch of ways to summon the Brood and ways to use it, feel free to put this in your deck. Otherwise, don’t. This is one of those cards that gets played in many decks where it doesn’t belong, since it looks pretty awesome when everything is going correctly.

 

Conquering Manticore 

Constructed: 1.0

Dragon + Threaten is a kind of awkward combination, because decks that are traditionally interested in Threaten don’t tend to really want six-drops. It is a huge Red flier that isn’t actually a Dragon, which means it can take Baneslayer, but it still loses to it in a fight, so that’s kind of lame.

Limited: 4.0

This is going to lead to some nice stories, I can just tell. Taking their Eldrazi and bashing is a huge swing, and you get to follow up by bashing for five in the air. One of the problems with Threaten is that it doesn’t advance your board state, and Conquering Manticore solves that problem quite neatly. Of course, you are really playing this for the Dragon, not the Threaten, but the point stands.

 

Devastating Summons 

Constructed: 3.0

I originally thought this card had Haste, and was roundly mocked by wrapter, since apparently that would be too good. After playing with it some, I have to agree. As is, it is very hard to for non-Wrath decks to deal with, especially if the Red deck has any sort of board presence beforehand. When it gets really devastating is when you add Goblin Bushwhacker to the mix. All of a sudden you are looking at a ton of damage for just three mana, which is a beating. Triple-Red is tough for any deck but mono-Red, and Bushwhacker is not that good in most mono-Red decks, but the Summons is good enough to demand a deck built around it.

Limited: 2.0

Another card that is at its best in aggressive decks, Summons can put them under a ton of pressure if you make a couple 5/5s on turn five. Curving out and finishing with a 4-drop plus Summons for five is pretty nutty, although more than balanced by the fact that you almost definitely lose if they can deal with the onslaught. This is one of the cards that I want to keep an eye on, since I could see it being even better than I thought.

 

Disaster Radius 

Constructed: 1.0

To see this effect done well, I refer you to Martial Coup. Imagine finally hitting the seventh land for this, but not having a creature in your hand. Now that’s what I call a disaster.

Limited: 3.0

Talk about an effect worth paying seven for! If you have even 12 guys in your deck this is fine, as long as a couple are of decent size. Revealing a three-drop will still clear most of their guys out, and once you start showing a five-mana spell you are in good shape. Some games it will be a lousy topdeck, and some games you will have to slowroll a creature you want to play, but the games it works outweigh all of that.

 

Emrakuls Hatcher 

Constructed: 2.0

If feels like there are a lot of speculative cards in this set, with the Spawn cards reminding me of the Bloodghast / sacrifice cards. I think the Spawn cards are more likely to see play, with Hatcher being one of them. It takes a pretty focused deck to want to cast this over Siege-Gang Commander, but there just might be enough enablers and rewards to make it happen.

Limited: 3.5

This is the sort of enabler I can get behind. Great at face value and great at adding mana, it is not difficult to imagine following up the Hatcher with some monstrous threat, and even if you don’t plan on doing that, the Hatcher is a quality creature.

 

Explosive Revelation 

Constructed: 2.0

There may just be enough Brainstorm effects (Jace, Halimar Depths) to warrant trying to 15 people by flipping Emrakul. See Beyond fits perfectly in the deck, and other burn spells can do the five damage if need be. Now, I don’t know if that is all better than just casting Polymorph, and I suspect that it isn’t, but it does ignore most cards that the opponent could play, which is always good. I would want to play the deck just because I know at some point I would get to hardcast Emrakul, which would be awesome.

Limited: 3.0

It would take a whole lot of one-drops before I would consider cutting this from my deck. At first I thought it was terrible, but that is because I didn’t really read the card, and assumed it was Erratic Explosion. Getting to keep the revealed card makes this awesome, since it is a built-in two for one! Even if it does like 2.5 damage on average, killing a 2-toughness guy and drawing a spell is sweet, and this will often do way more than that.

 

Fissure Vent 

Constructed: 1.0

I wonder when we will see straight up Stone Rain that only hits nonbasics, since that seems to be the trend in land destruction nowadays. As cool as it would be to kill an Everflowing Chalice and a Celestial Colonnade, five mana is just too much for this effect.

Limited: 0.5

There aren’t many artifacts that need killing, and less nonbasics, but I guess you could sideboard this in the event that you need to do so.

 

Flame Slash 

Constructed: 2.0

Strafe and Sunlance have both been cast in Constructed tournaments before, which does bode well for Flame Slash. Then again, now we have cards like Lightning Bolt and Burst Lightning and Searing Blaze, so on second thought, maybe not. If for some reason hitting four toughness guys is very important, maybe some Slashing will occur, but that is a pretty corner case. This is definitely a card that would have been awesome a few years ago but is pretty meh now.

Limited: 3.5

I really like Flame Slash in Limited. Premium removal that is also ridiculously mana-efficient is sick, and it works very well with Mnemonic Wall and Echo Mage (both of which I had at the prerelease, which admittedly may make me a little biased). Being able to drop a guy and kill their guy on turn four is sick, and four damage is enough to kill most guys, including levelers.

 

Forked Bolt 

Constructed: 2.5

Yet another card competing for Burn slots, Forked Bolt offers a one-mana two for one, which is rare. Burst Lightning edges this out in most matchups, but Bolt is powerful enough to warrant consideration. Any time you snag two guys it is just absurd, and a sorcery-speed Shock is not a huge downgrade.

Limited: 3.0

A little worse than either Flame Slash or Staggershock, Forked Bolt is still a kill spell and still offers up two for ones, so you won’t see it late. I luckily had all three in one of my decks, and it was pretty sweet having the right burn spell at any point in the game. Once you see one of these out of the opponent, you should be able to prevent them from destroying you with it, another reason it loses a little luster against competent opponents.

 

Goblin Arsonist 

Constructed: 1.0

Mogg Fanatic was a staple for years, and Arsonist is a “fixed” Mogg Fanatic that works under the new rules, but not being able to pull the trigger at any time sets fire to any chance of this seeing play.

Limited: 1.5

This blocks pretty well, but they can just ignore it if they have a sweet 1-toughness guy. There are some decks that have to attack into it, but those are the decks that don’t have important 1-toughness guys usually. If they are 2-drop beatdown, this trades well, but it should be almost impossible to two for one them with this.

 

Goblin Tunneler 

Constructed: 1.0

Skip the tunneling and call in the (ruin)blasting crew.

Limited: 1.0

The rating is a bit tricky on this one. It works very well with cards like Valakut Fireboar and Kiln Fiend, but is obviously loose on its own. It shouldn’t be difficult to pick these up if you want them, which should only be if you have 3+ of the above-mentioned guys.

 

Grotag Siege-Runner 

Constructed: 1.0

If the Wall deck gets big somehow, decks could start running these, but that isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Limited: 2.0

There aren’t quite enough Walls in the set to make this an auto-play, but a 2/1 for two doesn’t need to do all that much to be decent. Its ability is perfect for the kind of deck that wants 2/1’s to begin with, which is good design. It is also obviously a good sideboard card if they have some sweet Walls to kill.

 

Heat Ray 

Constructed: 1.0

If Banefire isn’t seeing play, what are the chances that Heat Ray will?

Limited: 3.0

You aren’t going to win any efficiency battles with Heat Ray, since in most cases you will pay as much or more than they did for whatever you kill, but instant-speed removal is never a bad thing. Its inefficiency doesn’t matter much lategame, and at that point you get to kill almost anything, even some monstrous Eldrazi. It is a little tedious to keep mana up in case of an Umbra, but having the option is nice.

 

Hellion Eruption 

Constructed: 1.0

If you have a bunch of creatures out that they can’t deal with, upgrading them to 4/4 is not necessary. When a bunch of Saproling tokens erupt into Hellions, they are more often than not going to just get Wrathed immediately. This is not one of the cards that will go in the Spawn deck.

Limited: 3.5

This ranges from solid to ridiculous, all depending on how many crappy creatures you can churn out. Even in a normal deck with few ways to make Spawn, turning everything you have in play into a 4/4 is a nice upgrade. If you can make Spawn, this is like a delayed Overrun, and one that is good even if you just have a couple things in play. Definitely powerful enough to draft around if you get it early, and not hard to make decent if you pick it up late.

 

Kargan Dragonlord 

Constructed: 3.5

An obvious homage to Figure of Destiny, Kargan Dragonlord is luckily not quite as powerful (I say “luckily” because I was always on the other side of the table), but still awesome enough to see a lot of play. Between Plated Geopede, Hellspark Elemental and this, Red now has a dangerous amount of hard-hitting two-drops, which is good news for those who like the Mountains. It flies over Kor Firewalker and Wall of Omens, which are among two of the hardest cards for Red to deal with, and it gives you a great mana sink when you have excess mana lying around. This is exactly the kind of card Red wants, and only the fact that it really only fits in Mono-Red will limit how much play it sees.

Limited: 3.5

Even though it is very Red-intensive, being able to pay in installments makes the Dragonlord awesome in even a half-Red deck. If you are more than half-Red, it gets absurd, since you get to bash with a huge Dragon as early as turn four or five.

 

Kiln Fiend 

Constructed: 1.0

Red is flush with awesome cards nowadays, which will stop borderline cards like Kiln Fiend from seeing any play. Red tends to win the games when it has a steady stream of spells to play, so adding a card that depends on that is just asking for trouble.

Limited: 1.0-3.0

A card you need to really build around, Kiln Fiend doesn’t work in just any random deck. It can do a ton of damage if you have enough Rebound going on (Distortion Strike is especially nasty), but in a normal deck it will mostly just be filler. Even if you have a bunch of spells, consider when you want to normally be casting them, and don’t just throw in the Fiend because he is good with spells.

 

Lagac Lizard 

Constructed: 1.0

Slither on back to the 40-card decks where you belong.

Limited: 1.5

Hill Giant is always the definition of unexciting, but makes the cut often enough. If you need it, you need it, but you are rarely happy about it.

 

Lavafume Invoker 

Constructed: 1.0

I bet he is just fuming about never getting any Constructed play.

Limited: 1.0

Much like the other Invokers, his 8-mana ability is quite powerful, but unlike the rest he is pretty boring otherwise. His ability isn’t even good in every deck, which means he is only good when you have a bunch of creatures (or really need a 3-drop; all creatures are somewhat playable in that regard).

 

Lord of Shatterskull Pass 

Constructed: 1.0

You shall not pass (into the realm of Constructed)! Even a “cheap” 6/6 is nothing impressive in Constructed, and his highest level doesn’t do anything to change that.

Limited: 4.0

This guy bashes for a ton, and really quickly at that. If they do manage to assemble a defense capable of holding him back, just wait a few turns and he casts Plague Wind!

 

Lust for War 

Constructed: 1.0

You mean I have to attack with this Sprouting Thrinax? I guess I will then, and with Bloodbraid Elf and Raging Ravine as well. Oh, you are dead? That sucks.

Limited: 1.0

This does do a few things, albeit most of them poorly. It makes them unable to block with the enchanted guy, although you do have to wait a turn, and it still damages you. It also provides a source of direct damage, though again you take some damage, and it is also removal, despite costing you two cards most of the time. Overall not impressive, but doing enough different things does make it somewhat playable.

 

Magmaw 

Constructed: 1.0

I always think of this card being said in Dr. Evil’s voice, and that is about the most interesting thing about it. I guess tossing lands would have been a bit much for Limited, and not even necessarily enough to make it good enough for Constructed.

Limited: 4.0

The bar isn’t too high for 5-mana 4/4’s, and the second ability is definitely not irrelevant. Decks that don’t have Spawn to chuck can still throw dying creatures, Narcolepsied guys, and even random non-creature permanents like an Umbra on a guy that is getting bounced.

 

Ogre Sentry 

Constructed: 1.0

Red is not really in the lookout for Walls, and this doesn’t even block most of the current threats.

Limited: 2.5

I don’t know Red’s identity well enough in this set to say for sure how often it will want a card like this, but I know I like it. Clearly not great in beatdown, Ogre Sentry gives any sort of midrange or slow deck a good way to survive until late. Also, Warmonger’s Chariot, etc.

 

Rage Nimbus 

Constructed: 1.0

I would be pretty mad too, if I was a 5/3 for three that couldn’t attack.

Limited: 4.0

At worst, it trades for their best guy, and most games it will do way more than that. It is difficult to battle with this and survive, and it stops them from casting 2-power guys without disrupting your curve in the least. Lategame it also is a beast to deal with, so I feel safe putting it above all the common removal.

 

Raid Bombardment 

Constructed: 1.0

Most games where you are bashing with multiple guys, you don’t need much help, and this is a pretty miserable topdeck. This is not Sulfiric Vortex, or even Boggart Shenigans.

Limited: 0.5

The problem with using this with Spawn is that they can just block and kill all the Spawn, so that mostly limits this to use in a low-curve aggro deck. Again, if you are repeatedly attacking them, you don’t need the help, making this inconsistent.

 

Rapacious One 

Constructed: 1.0

I think I’ll just be good and limit myself to calling this Constructed unplayable.

Limited: 2.5

Hopefully you get to cut this from your deck, since that means your deck is pretty sweet. Trading your six-drop for a guy or two and getting a few chumps out of the deal is a good scenario, and isn’t that unlikely to occur. Sure, sometimes they just kill it, but removal is killing something, and you should be able to get good value out of this more often than not.

 

Soulsurge Elemental 

Constructed: 1.0

I can’t imagine a scenario where playing this isn’t asking to just get blown out somehow, whether it be mass removal or just blocking with a guy and Terminating something else.

Limited: 2.0

In a creature-heavy deck, the Elemental is fine, since First Strike makes combat a lot less likely to go badly. Even if a bunch of guys trade in combat, your Elemental already killed his opposition, so you aren’t going to get destroyed.

 

Spawning Breath 

Constructed: 2.0

Wow, another potentially playable burn spell. It is interesting how many of these we are getting, and it will be cool seeing which end up showing up in decks. A burn spell/mana ramp/two for one, Breath has a lot of little advantages that make it worth looking at. This isn’t really a card for an aggressive deck, but in some ramp deck it could work quite well.

Limited: 3.0

Even against decks without many targets, this accelerates out something absurd, and in a pinch makes a chump blocker. I suppose if they had actual no targets, I would cut it, but you rarely get that level of information about an opposing deck.

 

Splinter Twin 

Constructed: 2.0

People have been trying to jam Kiki-Jiki and Pestermite into all sorts of decks, but so far I have been unimpressed with the results. Splinter Twin works way better than the Kiki, since now you can EOT Pestermite them, then untap and play this for the kill, which is vastly better than having to pay five for Kiki. Whether that will make the deck good enough, I don’t know, but it seems like an improvement.

Limited: 1.5

If you don’t have anything filthy to put this on, it actually isn’t that impressive. Making a 3/3 to attack them with each turn is just asking to get 2 for 1ed for little gain, so I wouldn’t play it unless I had some guys with enter the battlefield effects.

 

Staggershock 

Constructed: 3.5

Not only does this do four damage for three mana, it is also one of the easiest two for one’s ever printed. All you have to do is cast it, and it does the work for you! It might not kill them if you peel it on your last turn, but every other turn it does just fine, and splitting up the damage is a really nice bonus. I would be shocked if this didn’t turn up in multiple Red decks; it is just too versatile not to.

Limited: 4.0

Removal doesn’t usually make it to 4, but being able to pick off two guys with ease is a pretty unique quality. Usually you have to set things up or pay a lot of mana to get a two for one, but Staggershock requires neither. Spending your turn three to kill their two and three drop is hard to beat, and even late this can just nug them.

 

Surreal Memoir 

Constructed: 1.0

Using Memoir to get back two Lightning Bolts is close to good enough in terms of mana efficiency, but the times when it is clunky or doesn’t have targets make it too inconsistent to really see play. If this got back sorceries, or was an instant itself, it would be sweet, but I guess either was probably too dangerous.

Limited: 1.0-3.0

Inspiration that draws you two removal spells is awesome, but only in decks with 5+ targets is Memoir going to reliably get there. In case you didn’t know, getting back an instant and then casting it in response to the Rebound trigger is a common play, since it gets you the full value out of this.

 

Traitorous Instinct 

Constructed: 1.0

It has been awhile since I have seen Red decks using Threatens, so my instinct is to call this unplayable. The +2/+0 is worth the extra mana, although like I said, there really isn’t a deck interested in it.

Limited: 1.0

I rarely play Threaten myself, but it is good in decks that want it. If you are aggressive, feel free to crush people with this, but like I have said about many cards, putting this in your average deck is not likely to turn out well.

 

Tuktuk the Explorer 

Constructed: 1.0

There are better ways to get an undercosted 5/5, Plated Geopede, anyone? Having to go through the trouble of killing Tuktuk (I almost typed “Squee” there) is just not worth the hassle.

Limited: 3.0

He holds off their ground guys or bashes for an unblockable one..what’s not to like? You might even toss a point from a Forked Bolt or a Staggershock at him, and even if you don’t it is hard for Tuktuk not to be decent.

 

Valakut Fireboar 

Constructed: 1.0

I’m sorry if my puns are getting boring, but there really isn’t much boarmore to say about cards like this.

Limited: 2.5

A 1/7 Wall does a great job of holding off non-Eldrazi attackers, and bashing for seven is never bad. You either kill all their guys with removal, make the Boar unblockable, or just settle for trading him for something; all seem like fine situations to me!

 

Vent Sentinel 

Constructed: 1.0

Eventually there might be enough good Walls to get something going, but I doubt this will be the finisher of choice.

Limited: 2.0

By his lonesome, the Sentinel blocks reasonably well and pings for one, which isn’t bad. Once you start gunning for multiple damage, he becomes a real threat, so it’s hard to go wrong with this guy.

 

World at War 

Constructed: 1.0

If you want an extra attack phase that badly, try casting Time Warp. Not only do you get to bash again, you draw a card and untap all your lands! I do have to say that this is one of the best Relentless Assault variants printed in a while, but I still think it falls short of playable.

Limited: 2.0

You only need to have a 3-power guy getting through each time to make this better than Lava Axe, but the second hit is going to be less likely to succeed than the first. In an aggressive deck (preferably with a lot of evasion) this can do a ton of damage, and is worth a slot.

 

Wrap in Flames 

Constructed: 1.0

I wish this would make it to Constructed, since anytime I ended a game with this I would say “and that’s a wrap”. I guess I will have to limit myself to doing so in Limited

Limited: 2.0

A more restrictive Arc Lightning is the primary function of this, but the not blocking part is important too. It is nice being able to play a Falter effect (more Saga references!) that is good when you are on defense, since I just love flexible cards.

Top Five Constructed Cards for Red

5. Spawning Breath
4. Forked Bolt
3. Devastating Summons
2. Kargan Dragonlord
1. Staggershock

Wow, Red made out pretty well. Staggershock and Dragonlord are both very good, and only the mana issue made me put the Shock at higher. Devastating Summons is sure going to beat down, although it requires more work than any of the other cards on the list. I chose Spawning Breath over Flame Slash because it does something different than most burn spells, even though Slash is a little more powerful. Decks that want straight burn already have a ton of better options, but Breath offers something else, which might help it see play. Overall, Red got a bunch of new toys, and seems well set up to have multiple distinct Mono-Red decks in Standard.

Join me tomorrow, as I finish up the colors with Green!

LSV

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