Born of the Gods: Playing to your Weaknesses – Red

(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)

 

Red was one of those hit or miss colors in Theros. When you got the power cards like Lightning Strike, Stormbreath Dragon, or Magma Jet, you could make a pretty sweet Red/X deck (I pulled a Stormbreath, Purphoros, and Thoughtseize all in one box to make a BR deck. Needless to say I won that tournament). However, for the most part I was underwhelmed by the color. Well, not to fear. Born of the Gods really beefs up red this time around. It adds new cards that make previous archetype such as BR Minotaurs more accessible, and also gives you some badly needed creature to put in to your Red/X deck. One thing that does seem to be missing though are heroic-centric cards. There are a lot fewer enablers this time around, which means you’ll get the bulk of your red heroic cards from Theros.
Akroan Conscriptor

Akroan Conscriptor

While I said that heroic enablers were fewer this time around, I didn’t mean that herioc cards were fewer. Akroan Conscriptor ends up being a re-usable Act of Treason (M14). This gives him incredible value since he also has a 3/2 body which is decent as well. I usually like playing quick heroic cards to overwhelm my opponent with attackers and combat tricks, but for him I’d make an exception. If I was was going to play one high costing Heroic card in a R/X heroic deck, it would be Akroan Conscriptor. I also think he’d be fine in other red decks such as UR tempo, BR aggro, and GR aggro. Sure you won’t have that many triggers in there, but if you target him a few times with a bestow creature, you’ll get great value from him. In draft I’d take him around my 5th-6th pick if I was making a red heroic deck, but otherwise I’d take him a little bit later. For sealed, I think it depends on your pool. If you have a lot of ways to activate his heroic, he could be a strong roleplayer. Otherwise, he’s just a 3/2 for 5 mana which isn’t that good. I personally think there will be enough enchantment creatures to help with his activation to constitute playing him in a deck.

Archetype of Aggression

Archetype of Aggression

Finally red gets trample! I’m kind of excited about the possibilities of this card. It’s an off color ability, as green usually gets trample (and red haste). I find this to be a great alternative to Nylea, God of the Hunt in any GR aggro deck you would build, and it’s also a great way to turn off their trample so you can block with 1/1’s the rest of the day and not have to worry about taking all that extra damage. Aside from GR where the big creatures reside, the Archetype loses some of its usefulness. In BR, UR, and WR midrange/aggro decks, he becomes little more than a 3/2 for 3 mana that has a special ability, which isn’t bad. If I was building a GR draft deck, I’d take him around pick 6-7 in draft (after I got my big creatures), but otherwise he’d be an afterthought or just a card to fill in my 23. In sealed, I think he would be a solid 3 drop in a red deck, and if it was GR then his value would shoot up. 

Bolt of Keranos

Bolt of Keranos

It’s a sorcery and it’s 3 mana, but it’s still a Lightning Bolt effect for 3 damage. Solid removal card, plus it gives you scry 1, but I would take this only after I took a Lightning Strike or Magma Jet. It helps red’s removal package considerably, especially if you’re not running a BR deck. I’d probably take it as one of my first 5 picks in draft if I couldn’t find any better removal in my colors, but if I was playing black or found another piece of removal that was better, it would drop to a 7th-8th pick. And of course, it’s a  strong card for sealed and should be in your 23 regardless of what else you have.

Everflame Eidolon

Everflame Eidolon

Yes, it’s firebreathing on a stick. I’d personally play this over Dragon Mantle in a R/X heroic deck, even though I lose the card advantage by doing so. His bestow cost is actually really good for +1/+1 and firebreathing on a creature you control. I’d take him somewhat high in draft (around 7), and he’d be a part of any other sealed red deck I built. It boosts UR and WR’s power, it gives GR more crushing power, and if you have a lot of removal in BR, it’s a good way to finish off the game quickly with your big creature.

Fall of the Hammer

Fall of the Hammer

Depending on the colors you’re using, this can be quite effective removal. It sucks that you can’t target a player as well, but you can’t argue with a 2 mana instant. While playing something that doesn’t rely on you having a creature on the battlefield is always better, this card has its uses. This is a card I would play in R/x decks that were light on removal but big on creatures. It would be very effective in GR, not bad in BR, and it would be alright RW and UR. It would probably go later in draft (maybe your 10th pick or so if you hadn’t been able to get any removal up until that point), and it would also be one of those cards you’d choose for the 23rd spot of your sealed deck because you didn’t open any decent removal. Evaluate the creatures in your pool, and if they have the power level to make this strong, play this card.

Kragma Butcher

Kragma Butcher

This guy would feel right at home in a minotaur deck, but I think he’s also a solid choice as a 3 drop for other red decks. Heck, I would even consider playing him in a red heroic deck because of his ability. His 3 toughness makes him somewhat hard to kill, and if you land him early you can start to attack for 4 each turn if he untapped from the last one. BR minotaurs is probably his best match. He’s not great against GR decks, but against any other ones I think he would get a few points of damage in. A solid pick for sealed I think, and maybe an 8th pick or so in draft if you’re building an aggressive red deck.

Lightning Volley

Lightning Volley

Don’t you hate it when you’re playing an aggressive deck like heroic and then your opponent stabilizes and puts like seven 4+ toughness creatures onto the battlefield? It feels like all is lost, and you had them down to 4 life!! Damn! Well, don’t hate that situation anymore! Lightning Volley provides you with a way to get in those last few points of damage without even having to break a sweat! This card would be great in the sideboard of a heroic deck, but it would work well as removal in other Red/x decks as well. Use it at the end of your turn, ping their giant blocker with all your creatures, then attack for the win. I think you can realistically get about 5 damage out of this when you use it, but if you have access to token makes like Brimaz and Akroan Crusader, it’s value would suddenly increase in your deck. I like it, but wouldn’t use an early pick in draft for it. Same for sealed. I’d like to play it, but I wouldn’t mind keeping it in the sideboard in exchange for playing another creature. Great sideboard card, and decent main board card if you need more removal. Try it out.

Nyxborn Rollicker

Nyxborn Rollicker

I chose this card because I like enchantment creatures in general. You can play them as a enchantment and get their benefit that way first, then use them again once that first creature dies. It’s a two in one. This guy would be very easy to cast in an aggressive R/x heroic deck, so he has my vote of confidence. Let me play a fast one drop or let me activate heroic on turn 2 with him and give a bonus. He’ll be great in an aggressive deck. He’d probably fill in one of the last slots in my sealed deck, and as for draft I probably wouldn’t take him until pick 11 or 12. He’s not necessary for your strategy to do well, but he does add synergy to any heroic deck you make. Outside of heroic, I probably wouldn’t use him.

Satyr Nyx-Smith

Satyr Nyx-Smith

Satyrs can be so clever. With the Nyx-Smith you can wait until your opponent is tapped out to cast him, hit for quick damage, then bring out another creature the following turn. I like this mechanic on him, and I think he’d be alright in the 3 drop position of just about any red deck. He gives you a little bit of reach when played in a heroic deck and a mana sink for later on in the game, and in other red decks he gives you badly needed creatures. Being able to play a UR tempo deck with him would be interesting. You could load up on Griptides and Voyage’s End and let him continue to attack and make 3/1’s, all the while frustrating your opponent that’s trying to get something to stick on the board. I wouldn’t take it too early in draft, but I think it would be a decent card in a sealed deck. Three mana for a 3/1 with haste is worth the investment I think, and being able to attack with it on that turn is also good.

Searing Blood

Searing Blood

I like Magma Jet a lot because you get the 2 Scry bonus and also hit an opponent with it, but I could see this spell getting a lot of play in sealed. You can sneak in an extra 3 damage early in the game, and in heroic strategies that could be the difference between winning the game by turn 5 or letting your opponent stabilize and take the game away from you. Another reason this would be good in heroic strategies is that you can add the removal on top of a combat trick to really hurt your opponent. While I would take a card like Magma Jet or Lightning Strike first in draft, this is a solid card that deserves a spot in both your draft and sealed deck. It should work well in just about any red deck you play. 

Stormcaller of Keranos

Stormcaller of Keranos

Now THIS is an awesome ability. Being a 2/2 creature for 3 mana and haste is playable in and of itself, but being able to scry multiple times in a turn? Holy crap. It’s not as good as “Draw a card”, but it’s still pretty damn strong. Being able to scry to the card you need as long as you have the mana is a great ability – “land. no, sorcery. no. Big freaking creature. YES!” Of course this is going to be absolutely bonkers in a UR deck, but I would also say that it’s worth splashing a few islands in any other red deck or putting a blue scry land in there to let you activate this ability a few times each game. If you don’t have access to blue or don’t want to splash, the card then becomes merely mediocre, but if you’re focusing on a UR heroic or UR tempo deck, this is a card you absolutely want to draft first. Same thing with sealed. If you’re playing even a smidgen of blue, PLAY THIS CARD. 

Thunder Brute

Thunder Brute

Born of the Gods is definitely missing any good beaters in red. Theros had some high costed monsters as well as monstrous cards like Ill-Tempered Cyclops, but BNG seems to be more about combat tricks and minotaurs this time around. That’s why I want to recommend Thunder Brute. This is one of those cards that is damned if you do or damned if you don’t for your opponent. On one hand you get a 5/5 trample with haste if your opponent doesn’t pay the cost. On the other hand, you get an 8/8 trample for 6 mana. Wow. Awesome card, maybe even a better finisher than most of the red rares in the set. I’d probably take him as one of my first 3 choices in draft, and he’d be the main event in any red sealed deck I put together. In my opinion, this is one of the best uncommon creatures in the set for limited. 

Other Cards that Might see play

  • Pharagax Giant – It’s not bad, but I’m not sure it’s a card I’d automatically put in one of my 23 slots. It could be a 5/5 for 5 mana, or a 3/3 for 5 mana that does 5 damage. It will really depend on your curve I think. If you need a few 5 drops it’s good in your deck, but I feel there are a lot cards that are more aggressive or more powerful in the same spot. Probably a 23rd choice in a deck for me.
  • Thunderous Might – With the increase of good removal that comes with Born of Gods, Thunderous Might could be a risky bet. However, it can also pay off handsomely if you get it out early and your opponent doesn’t have an answer for it. It would probably be best in a R/x herioc deck. 
  • Impetuous Sunchaser – There are quite a bit of flying creatures in Theros that this creature could run into problems with, but I think it gives decks like R/x heroic the evasion it needs to push through damage. In fact that’s probably the only deck I would play him in, but since heroic is going to be somewhat widespread in BNG limited, I’m recommending him. 
  • Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass – 5/2. Four mana. It’s a beater and realistically priced. Not a high pick in draft, but a good card to fill out your colors with. Same with sealed, it’s not going be a roleplayer, but it gives decks like WR or UR more power than they usually have available to them. 

Coming Up Next

Now that I’ve looked through all the red cards, I feel like there are more playable cards (in limited) than I thought there were before. I said it the other day, but I’m going to say it again that I think Born of Gods will be great in limited. The set adds a lot more strategies and synergies to the format, but many people are going to be disappointed by the set’s contributions to standard. Give it some time though, and I think some of the cards will find their way there. 

With 3 days left to the midnight pre-release here in Nagoya, there are only 2 more articles to write: Green and multicolor. Multicolor is going to be extremely easy to write with so few cards, and can be easily overlooked, so I think I will do that next. I’ll be pretty busy on Thursday, but I should be able to get the article out after I get home from work so expect it sometime then. Thanks again for reading, and if you want to add anything to the article, please leave your comments below. See you next time!

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