Return to Ravnica: Play to your Weaknesses – Red

I’m doing Red tonight, and I don’t think I’ll be able to touch multicolor and hybrid until tomorrow morning or tomorrow evening. This will be alright for those of you playing overseas in the USA, but it might be too late for those of you following me in Asia or Europe. I’ll do my best to get the last one done after this!

Red is a very exciting color in RTR. I thought that red had been absolutely gutted in M13. After the rotation it will be losing a lot of cards that can’t be replaced (Slagstorm, Whipflare, Inferno Titan), so I was crossing my fingers that Return to Ravnica would bring some cards back that could make mono red decks playable again. My prayers were answered.

Bloodfray Giant

Holy shit. Unleash this guy on turn 4 for a 5/4 trampler on the next turn. What makes him great is his low casting cost along with his trampler ability. Even if you’re playing straight Izzet, this guy will give you just what you need to end the game. He’s aggressive and he will do a lot of damage. And at 4 toughness when unleashed, your opponent is going to have to double block him, meaning he’ll lose two creatures to your one. If only you could give him some evasion!

Pursuit of Flight

Sweet! There you go. Slap this on your 5/4 giant to make him a 7/6 on turn 5, and then give him flying! I doubt your opponents Azorius punks will be able to stop him. This is a great enchantment if you’re playing Izzet, but as I mentioned before, this would also be amazing in an Izzet/Rakdos or an Izzet/Azorius deck. The +2/+2 is nothing new on a red enchantment, but the ability to give it flying makes this card totally worth it if you are playing blue.

Splatter Thug

Wow, this is a common, really? On one hand you can have a tough to block 3/3 first strike attacker, and on the other hand you’d have a 2/2 first strike blocker. Team this up with a Fencing Ace or Precinct Captain in a Azorius/Izzet deck and you’d have an awesome team of humans that will absolutely destroy any creature stupid enough to attack. 3 mana isn’t bad at all, and he can also be splashed if your main color isn’t red. I’d definitely play with this guy. Good in BR, UR, BUR, or WRU.

Street Spasm

We’ve known about this card for a while. It’s regular casting cost makes it better than Volcanic Geyser from M13, but its overload cost makes it a good board wipe in a pinch. This card would be great against Selsenya decks that are playing with tons of tokens, but be sure to time it right so your opponent can’t throw down a Rootborn Defense and save everybody. It’s hard to say where this would fit the best. Rakdos would benefit from a board wipe since you could just keep tearing away at your foe, but this could work in Izzet as well if you have the right finishers. I don’t know if I’d rely on that second effect too much, but it’s not a bad card to have for later on the game when you have tons of mana sitting around. One deck it wouldn’t do well against is Azorius though, since a lot of the creatures in that color combination are flying and this won’t even scratch them.

Racecourse Fury

Interesting card. RTR has some good land enchantments, and I wouldn’t mind giving the #23 card slot in my deck to this card. If you’re playing Rakdos or Izzet, this could prove to be really useful. It would also be a lot of fun in a Rakdos/Golgari deck. Unleash your creatures, scavenge some spare parts from creatures in the graveyard to make them bigger, then tap your land to give it haste and hit for lethal when your opponent is tapped out. I think this will be a useful card so if you see some good combinations with cards you pulled, use it.

Minotaur Aggressor

Well, he’s not exactly a glass cannon like some of the other 5 or 6 power creatures we’ve seen in red. A 6/2 haste with first strike has finisher written all over him. I’d be pretty scared if my opponent just cleared my board and drops him on the next turn. If you can give him trample or some other type of evasion then you pretty much have the game in the bag. Your opponent can chump block all they want, but unless they are willing to sacrifice 6 toughness from their own creatures, this guy is going to hurt them eventually. He’s a great finisher for Izzet, which will be lacking in powerful creatures early on but will have tons of spells to compensate. I think the Minotaur would also be good in a Rakdos deck as the top of your curve. On the defensively side he’s also very scary, and will trade punches with over 90% of the creatures and still survive. Not a first choice, but I wouldn’t toss him away either.


If you can’t seem to break through your opponents defenses, then direct damage is the way to go. If you can protect him, he can single handedly win the game for you. He won’t do it quickly, but in a control type deck he’d be an allstar. Throw him into a Izzet or Izzet/Azorius and watch the sparks literally fly at your opponent whenever you cast a counterspell, draw cards, or return creatures to their owner’s hands. If you get some good kill spells, he’d be good in a Golgari/Rakdos or Rakdos/Izzet deck as well. Just be sure to stack the deck with some great instants and sorceries. I personally can’t wait to throw a few of him into a Grixis Burning Vengeance deck and watch my opponent spontaneously combust.


It won’t be killing any Wurm tokens, but this could be a good card to side in against a Selesnya or Golgari deck that is playing a lot of 1/1 birds or saporlings. I don’t know if I’d run it main though. One damage is a little bit too low for me in a format where I’m going to be looking to take out threats later in the game. I’ll have to wait and see how the format turns out.

Annihilating Fire

Is this card better than Incinerate? Hmm, probably not. Two mana (with only one color symbol) is the same reason that people played Mana Leak instead of  Dissipate. But I do like it nonetheless. It’s part Pillar of Flame (AVR), and part Incinerate. It will be great against Zombies in constructed along side a full set of Pillar of Flame, and I definitely think it will see some play in sealed. It will be the strongest against creatures with Scavenge in Golgari, but it should also be good against creatures with Unleash as well. I’d play with this in my main deck, and if red is your main color, you should have no problem putting it into a Rakdos or Izzet deck. I’d just be careful with 3 colors since this card’s cost has double red.

Chris’ Picks

It looks like once again Chris and I have some disagreements.

  • Annihilating Fire
  • Batterhorn
  • Electrickery
  • Explosive Impact
  • Gorehouse Chainwalker
  • Splatter Thug
  • Tenement Crasher
  • Viashino Racketeer

We both like Annihilating Fire, Electrickery, and Splatter Thug, but I wasn’t sure about the other ones.

Batterhorn is okay, but it seemed more like a sideboard card to me. A 4/3 for 5 mana isn’t bad, but are there really going to be a lot of dangerous artifacts you need to worry about? If you can’t find anything else to put in your 5 spot, he’s okay, but I’d be looking for something else.

Explosive Impact. It’s got a lot of power, and it’s an instant. It can also be splashed into a 3 color deck. But I am always cautious around sorceries with a casting cost as high as 6. If your deck has a lot of other cards to take out the quicker threats, this would be fine. I wouldn’t hesitate to put this into a Rakdos deck, because by the time your opponent gets enough creatures out to stop your assuault, you could switch your strategy to direct damage and end the game. Start off Rakdos, then switch to Izzet for the win. I do however like that it’s creature OR player. I’m still undecided on this card.

Gorehouse Chainwalker. Okay, I overlooked him. I should have had him in my list. A Possible 3/2 for two mana is great for your curve in a mono red or Rakdos deck.

Tenement Crasher is another one of those great finishers from red. You can choose between him, Minotaur Aggressor, or some other big creature, but I wouldn’t choose all of them. 5/4 haste for 6 mana isn’t bad, just be careful not to overload your deck with high costs. This card would be right at home in Rakdos.

Viashino Racketeer is good in mono red decks where you might need to draw cards, but in Return to Ravnica, I would just splash in blue to make my Rakdos deck BUR. There are some great draw effects at both the common and uncommon range in Izzet, so if you’re really want card draw just put them in there. If you have no other way of getting cards, put this guy in. Otherwise I’m not sure I’d pick him first or even have him in my top 23 cards at first.

Wrap Up

Red is VERY aggressive. You’re going to see a lot of these cards in Rakdos decks, but you might also see some as finishers in Izzet as well. It also has some great sorceries and instants and if you have enough to kill your opponent quickly, run with them. Just be really careful not to bloat your decks with high casting cost cards.

Either tomorrow morning or tomorrow evening (Japan time) I’ll have the last article done. Check back before your pre-release if you can! If not, good luck and I hope some of these suggestions helped you pick up some wins!

For the Conclave!