Time for some Red cards:
Act on Impulse: An interesting one. While the mana cost is three, you likely want to be casting this at around six mana, assuming you hit a land and two spells on average. The exception being a very hyperaggressive red deck, which might be able to support casting it at five. One to test and look out for.
Aggressive Mining: I feel I’m going to draft this at least once just to see how it plays out. Topdecking this with eight lands in play doesn’t seem like the worst thing. That being said, red as a colour doesn’t seem like it want to even reach eight lands in play in this format (spoiler alert), so that might limit it’s viability.
Altac Bloodseeker: This card seems to want to be paired with Lightning Strike all the time, as I’m otherwise skeptical the ability will be relevant in combat (if the creatures die in combat, it’s too late for the ability to matter). That being said, with the Strike it seems like a brutal card, and there’s something to be said for the ability to just bluff your opponent for free damage.
Belligerent Sliver: Like the other Slivers, somewhat less impactful without his brethren surrounding him. That being said, a 2/2 with some limited evasion isn’t a terrible fail state (see Pyreheart Wolf). If you need a three-drop, you could do worse.
Blastfire Bolt: This will kill basically any creature in the format, and is an instant. Just keep in mind it is significantly expensive, and will likely be easily telegraphed as a result.
Borderland Marauder: Just in case this card didn’t make it quite obvious, red just wants to attack people to death in this format. To provide a comparison for how good this guy is, compare it to Gore-House Chainwalker. That card was also a 3/2 “attacking only” creature, and it saw Constructed play. This card is arguably better then Chainwalker, as you get the full damage output, and can still block if need be. This guy is quite powerful!
Brood Keeper: A nice little build-around Uncommon. Red has a number of cheap auras to use as dragon fodder, such as Inferno Fist and Hammerhand, and the tokens it creates are legitimate threats by themselves. As long as you play smartly with this and don’t get blown out by removal, this card will do a lot of good work.
Burning Anger: An amazing finisher card. Usual caveats about auras apply, but if you stick this, you will easily control the board and just finish your opponent.
Chandra, Pyromaster: There are a large number of X/1’s in the format, so the +1 ability is quite strong. She also digs for extra cards. Chandra, like most Planeswalkers, is quite playable in this Limited environment.
Circle of Flame: Despite what I said about X/1’s above, this likely isn’t worth a card by itself, especially as it relies on your opponent walking into your on-board “trick”. As much as I want to live the dream with Circle of Flame and Polymorphist’s Jest, it isn’t likely to happen. 🙂
Clear a Path: A sideboard card for when you face the “Wall of Mulch” deck.
Cone of Flame: One of the strongest uncommons in the set. It shouldn’t be hard to find board states where you get 2-for-1’s or even 3-for-1’s with this card. An extremely strong incentive to be red in both Draft and Sealed.
Crowd’s Favor: My early opinion is that this is one of the best tricks in the format. “Free” spells are immensely difficult to play around, and this one has some serious blowout potential. Remember you can tap your creature after blocks to pay for this.
Crucible of Fire: Unplayable in this format, unfortunately.
Forge Devil: Bane of X/1’s everywhere, Forge Devil looks to be a powerhouse in this format, slaying creatures like Geist of the Moors, Child of Night, and the dreaded Bronze Sable. Forge Devil’s trigger is mandatory, however, so don’t go playing it onto an empty board.
Foundry Street Denizen: The red aggro curve looks real good between this, the Marauder, and Krenko’s Enforcer. Someone somewhere will have the nut Denizen deck, which on the surface seems capable of some very explosive draws.
Frenzied Goblin: Another excellent one-drop for the aggro decks. The ability looks minor, but is quite powerful, requiring at least two creatures in play to deal with the Goblin in combat, and that’s before any other tricks the red player has. Hammerhand also further allows you to stifle blocks. This is an uncommon for a good reason.
Generator Servant: This guy has received a lot of hype during the preview season, and with good reason. Jumping the mana curve is extremely powerful, and granting those spells haste is just awesome. There are a number of excellent five-drops that cause real headaches when they come out virtually two turns early (turn 4 with haste as opposed to turn 5 without).
Goblin Kaboomist: The mines seems real powerful, making any attacks by small ground creatures a waste of time. While the Kaboomist can potentially remove himself, even getting just one mine will make future attacks difficult. In addition, the red paragon can increase his toughness and put him out of range of his own suicide ability. This one looks strong.
Goblin Rabblemaster: I’m going to cheat here and draw on my experiences from the prerelease, because this guy exceeded expectations there. While generating tokens for no additional investment is obviously good, I thought the tokens would just suicide and not real make much of an impact. With the right curve of creatures, though, the Goblins can create a ton of damage, and when the Rabblemaster himself comes it, it usually causes some awkward blocks. In addition, the tokens can be excellent enablers for Convoke, which is also good because it stops a potentially bad attack. Rabblemaster is extremely good in Limited.
Goblin Roughrider: Another Goblin for Rabblemaster, and a perfectly acceptable three-drop. Once again, 3 power is where we want to be with all the 3 toughness creatures in the format.
Hammerhand: A deceptively powerful card for the red aggressive decks. +1/+1 and the blocking clause is very good in the decks that just want to attack you to death. It even grants haste, which is something I missed in my first impressions of the card. Look out for the turn five Brood Keeper that’s a 3/4 haste and also brings a dragon. I guarantee it will happen.
Heat Ray: A slightly clunky removal spell, that is made up for by its versatility. My opinion is it will be a 3 damage spell most of the time, but being a 4 or 5 if you need it to be is solid.
Hoarding Dragon: A five mana 4/4 flier is always excellent in Limited, and this dragon is no exception. I wouldn’t be too concerned about having an artifact for the ability, but it’s a reasonable upside. One interaction worth noting is that the second ability is a “dies” trigger, so if the dragon is bounced or exiled, you unfortunately won’t get your artifact. =(
Inferno Fist: I’m actually pretty high on this aura, mainly because it neatly dodges the common problem of getting 2-for-1’d. The ability to cash it in for 2 damage is completely reasonable, and if the red deck doesn’t need the ability, it’s quite happy to just hit you harder in the meantime.
Kird Chieftain: A 4/4 body is basically king in this format, and the activated ability just pushes it over the top. I’d avoid playing this unless it has 4 toughness, as it will otherwise die to things like Lightning Strike or Ulcerate. However, a fully powered Chieftain will dominate any board he is on. A very high pick.
Krenko’s Enforcer: A nice way for the aggressive red decks to have a bit of reach. This guy and Accursed Spirit significantly raise the value of Bronze Sable, so keep that in mind while drafting.
Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient: Basically a 4/3 vanilla in this format, unless you’re really trying to abuse Tyrant’s Machine. Still, a 4/3 body is not at all bad.
Lava Axe: I don’t think you need me to tell you if your deck wants a Lava Axe. I’ll just leave my oft-repeated “diminishing returns” phrase here and leave it be.
Lightning Strike: Possibly the best common in the set, even better then it was in Theros, which is saying something. Take these very highly, as they kill everything in the early game at a very low cost. This is even more true as other decks are quite likely to try and splash this effect.
Might Makes Right: This is an expensive, six mana enchantment that requires you to already have the biggest creature on the board before it does anything. While I’m skeptical these conditions will ever be met, it does seem fairly unbeatable if you get it going. Firebreathing creatures seem like they could help in this regard. I’m staying away for now, however.
Miner’s Bane: A poor man’s finisher if you have nothing better available. 3 toughness is really not great on a creature this expensive, as it trades down with something as small as an Oreskos Swiftclaw. Still, it can hit for a significant chunk with that trample ability. It may have a niche in the format.
Paragon of Fierce Defiance: I’m going to guess that Red cares more about the anthem ability, but honestly both abilities seem excellent for the deck. A nice top-end for the agrro curve.
Rummaging Goblin: Possibly the best looter in the set, as the four mana activation on Research Assistant is unfortunately somewhat clunky. This goblin doesn’t seem to fit in an aggressive deck, however, so I’m wondering if he has a home.
Scrapyard Mongrel: The red counterpart to Aeronaut Tinkerer that rewards you for playing artifacts. Mongrel seems exceptional if you have an artifact, and even something as simple as Darksteel Citadel can enable him for very little opportunity cost. The fail state of a four mana 3/3 (A “Hill Giant”) is acceptable in the meantime as well.
Shrapnel Blast: You will need a critical mass of artifacts before playing Shrapnel Blast is worth it. If you get to that point, however, it will be nearly impossible to play around, if opponents see it coming at all.
Siege Dragon: Seven mana 5/5 flier is acceptable as a baseline. The fact that he repeatedly scorches small creatures when he attacks is a not irrelevant upside. Probably worth the pick, but he likely doesn’t belong in the same deck as Foundry Street Denizen.
Soul of Shandalar: My pick for the most broken Soul in Limited. If you untap with this, it will completely dominate the board and finish your opponent in short order. Very few creatures in the format can survive the activated ability, and those that do are likely succumbing to a 6/6 first striker anyway.
Stoke the Flames: A card I’m reasonably excited about. 4 damage to a creature is already very good in a format where 3 toughness is the most common number. Add in the fact that it hits players AND can be Convoked for cheaper (or even free!) and we have a clear winner. A very high-pick uncommon and another excellent Red incentive.
Thundering Giant: 4 power worth of haste is a fine deal at five mana, and your opponents are unlikely to see it coming the first time. 3 toughness is somewhat of a drawback, but he’ll over-perform more often then not.
Torch Fiend: See Child of Night. A passable Limited body that gives you artifact hate at next to no opportunity cost. A fine man (devil).
Wall of Fire: If a Red control deck exists, this is likely a big part of it. 5 toughness is once again a huge deal in this format. This could easily make attacks somewhat awkward with the firebreathing.
– Red is skewed towards being aggressive: Mentioned often in this review, but cards like Foundry Street Denizen and Borderland Marauder reward you for hitting your opponent hard and often.
– The Red burn spells are excellent: Lightning Strike and Stoke the Flames are both premium removal spells that command a high pick. I can easily see fights over Red in drafts because of these cards, and Strike can be easily splashed if you take it early but it doesn’t pan out. – There are some powerful uncommons: Cards like Brood Keeper and Kird Ape are powerful cards that promote a different kind of red deck from the 1-2-3 aggro curve. This is good for the depth of the format.
While this review has fallen a little bit behind, we’re almost done now with only two entries left for M15. Join me next time for the Green cards, which are all about playing giant creatures.