Magic Origins: 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.)

As for my rating system, I’ll be using a new format this time around. After a lot of feedback, I’ve decided to abandon my 3 tier scoring system of Low-Medium-High and I will instead be moving onto a 5 star ranking system. The system is as follows:

  • 1 star = a card that is barely playable, even as filler for your deck
  • 2 stars = this card could be a strong sideboard card, but is highly conditional and not always effective
  • 3 stars = a 3 star card is a solid role-player. These cards could be less than amazing removal effects, or a creature that is a glass cannon (high power, low defense). They could be good except for a few flaws.
  • 4 stars = Here’s where we get into the powerhouses. 4 Stars could be good finishers, or cards that can end a game if left unchecked. They also have multiple effects, and are all around good value for you. The only thing holding them back is restrictive costs or some small drawback.
  • 5 stars = you won’t see a lot of these at common and uncommon. These will usually be your rares and mythics because they are incredibly bonkers. Planeswalkers, massive creatures, etc., these are the cards you could build a deck around.

 

I’m starting to see a pattern. Wizards really wanted to reprint all of the best cards ever made in this set, but due to how broken they made the originals, they had to fix it. Instead, in Origins we cards that are close to be amazing but just not there. Blue got Day’s Beginning, white got a Thalia Wannabe (Vryn Wingmare), Despoiler of Souls is very similar to Ichorid, and after looking at red I’m sure there is something that’s going to feel very familiar but not quite the same. You could say these aren’t the card we needed, but cards we deserved. We really wanted to play with these cards again, so Wizards made some changes in order to keep the cards fair and playable in standard without being too overpowered. The originals will always be better, but Origins will emulate the previous experiences rather well I think.

 

Red

 

Ravaging Blaze

Ravaging Blaze

Ravaging Blaze is probably my favorite burn spell in the set. Not only can it take care of any creature you come up against, but it becomes a great finisher late game. If it doesn’t kill your opponent, it should put them on the brink of death. I can think of nothing better than frying their best creature for 6 points of damage and hitting them for 6 points of damage too. Just make sure you have some good removal spells to use before it so you can activate it’s Spell Mastery ability. I’d take this really high in draft, possibly a first pick if my rare isn’t that impressive.

RATING: 4 stars

 

Magmatic Insight

Magmatic Insight

Speaking of good spells to use to activate spell mastery effects, I can think of nothing better in red than Magmatic Insight. Burn players in Modern/Legacy are excited about it, and I think limited players will be excited to draw two cards as well. With a 17 land/23 card split in limited, you should have more than enough land to toss in order to activate it. Great value for one mana. If you’re playing any kind of aggressive deck and need that card advantage, play it.

RATING: 3.5 stars

 

Fiery Impulse

Fiery Impulse

It’s no Lightning Bolt, but you have to admit 1 mana for a Shock/Lightning Bolt effect on a creature is better than most cards we’ve gotten recently. There are plenty of 2 and 3 toughness creatures in Origins limited and I think so you’ll get a lot of use out of it. If you’re building a red deck and need removal, get it. You won’t get that 3 damage early, but late game you can almost count on it as a top deck late game.

RATING: 3 stars

 

Lightning Javelin

Lightning Javelin

This is probably the best burn spell we’ll get a common. I don’t see why they couldn’t have reprinted something like Bolt of Keranos for 3 mana (which does the same thing), but oh well. I’ll take 3 damage to anything and 1 scry for 4 mana and be happy for it. It’s not a card I’d take highly in draft if other removal was available, but if it came around the table I’d pick it up. Probably a higher pick in the 2nd and 3rd packs of draft once you’ve decided to play red.

RATING: 3.5 stars

 

Fiery Conclusion

Fiery Conclusion

If your chump blocker is going to die, might as well sacrifice it to kill your opponent’s beater. It’s 2 mana, instant speed, and also hits flyers which makes it better than Roast from DTK in my book. This card works great in those UR decks that have lots of disposable thopters lying around. As long as you’re not too worried about losing a creature that’s already used up its worth, play it. I think it’s one of the better red removal spells in Origins.

RATING: 3.5 stars

 

Seismic Elemental

Seismic Elemental

This “Seismic Stomp” ability should come in pretty handy in battle, and the 4/4 body isn’t bad either. It’s a beater, it gives your creatures evasion . . . it’s hard to find any faults with this card. If you can play an aggressive deck and curve out before playing him you could potentially end the game when he hits the battlefield if your opponent doesn’t have any flyers. I guess UW or UB flyers would disregard this creature’s ability, not to mention UR Thopters, but it’s still good. I’d be happy to make this one of my first picks in draft.

RATING: 4 stars

 

Enthralling Victor

Enthralling Victor

This is a pretty cool uncommon. For starters I like the flavor. He’s so cool that all the weaker creatures want to be like him, so they follow him everywhere (or at least until the end of turn). While there aren’t too many creatures with 2 power or less in the format, what this card can do is clear the path for your big creature and force your opponent to block unfavorably. His 3/2 body also is relevant too making him a smart pick in draft as well as a good play in sealed. Whenever you can make your opponent fear attacking or playing a card because they have to worry about a card of yours, that’s a good thing.

RATING: 3.5 stars

 

Firefiend Elemental

Firefiend Elemental

Red’s creatures are downright aggressive. Waiting for your opponent to tap out or leave themselves open only to play this guy and get an extra counter on him is mean :). If your renowned guy doesn’t have evasion or some kind of ability that keeps opponents from blocking them, the next best thing is sneaking in that damage when they least expect it. Firefiend is great for a common and playable in all red decks. I really can’t complain about it.

RATING: 3.5 stars

 

Thopter Engineer

Thopter Engineer

I love all of these thopter producing cards. A card that gives you 2 bodies for one spell is always playable, especially if one creature has evasion and can attack the turn it comes into play. If you’re able to draft all the thopter making cards in one deck this card will become downright bonkers. Blue has some cool ones like Whirler Rogue, but Thopter Engineer, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, and Ghirapur Gearcrafter really make me want to play red. It’s a high, but not first pick in draft. These cards are going to be really good in limited I think.

RATING: 3.5 stars

 

Ghirapur Gearcrafter

Ghirapur Gearcrafter

Here’s the other guy I was talking about. He’s not as good as the Engineer, but he still gives you 2 creatures for one card. I would probably pick him over most of the other red creatures in this set. I can’t stress enough how excited I am to build a UR Thopter deck in draft or to even use these in sealed. They are good in a vacuum, but even better when the synergy from the other artifact/thopter themed cards are online.

RATING: 3 stars

 

Ghirapur Gearcrafter

Volcanic Rambler

Good beater and a good mana sink for later in the game. Even if they have a enough chump blockers to keep it from smashing them, Volcanic Rambler is still gonna get some damage in there as boiling hot magma drips from its body. All you need is 2 to fill out your upper end in your deck and you’ll be fine. Definitely playable in limited.

RATING: 3 stars

 

Skyraker Giant

Skyraker Giant

It’s strange to see the color wheel get bent out of whack, but the flavor explains it well. Reach is usually a green ability, but giants often tend to be red so Skyraker Giant makes sense. I’m not complaining. If you’re getting pounded by 1/1 thopters, birds, or drakes the Giant will make sure they stay away from your head. A 4/3 vanilla creature for 4 mana would usually JUST make my deck of 23 cards, but a 4/3 with Reach will ALWAYS have a spot in a red deck in limited. When it’s not swatting down pesky flyers, it will do an alright job of being a beater as well. Another solid red card.

RATING: 4 stars

 

Prickleboar

Prickleboar

If you’re running an aggressive red deck the Prickleboar is pretty good, but if you’re on the defensive he’s a slightly over-costed blocker that trades with a few cards. I think he’d be really good in those thopter decks that have tons of blockers but not a lot of finishing power. 5/3 first strike when attacking is hard to deal with. If red is popular at the drafting table you can be sure these won’t make it around. There aren’t a lot of good 5 drops in red so it would fit into the curve really well.

RATING: 3 stars

 

Acolyte of the Inferno

Acolyte of the Inferno

Wow. Red just wants to PUNISH you for even thinking of blocking their creatures. The Acolyte downright refuses to be chump blocked by a 1 or 2 toughness creature, and will burn each to a crisp if they try. If your opponent wants to stop him, they’ll have to trade with a mid-sized creature but with all the burn in this set not even 3+ toughness will keep their creatures safe. I would consider this to be one of my first picks in draft. It will simply be unstoppable the first few turns and impossible to team up on to kill. If only you had some kind of Lure effect that would force all creatures to block him.

RATING: 4 stars

 

Boggart Brute

Boggart Brute

Menace is a new key word in Origins, and it fits well with the increase of combat tricks in limited that came to be in Theros block. Making your opponent over commit resources and then taking out one of them or both is a good way to gain the upper hand. If you’re playing an aggressive RW or BR deck Boggart Brute will be right at home. I’m finding it hard to see any unplayable cards in red . . .

RATING: 3 stars

 

Cobblebrute

Cobblebrute

Red always has a glass cannon that will break at the slightest amount of damage, but Cobblebrute from the Return to Ravnica block is worth having in your deck. Not only will it trade up and kill some of the biggest creatures in the format, but if your opponent doesn’t deal with it the elemental is a 4 turn clock. Good card to help you fill up one of the last few spots in your 23 card red deck.

RATING: 3 stars

 

 

Other Cards That Might See Play

 

  • Akroan Sergeant – 3 mana, first strike, renowned . . . he fits well on curves and has a good abilities. He’ll definitely be a roleplayer in red decks.
  • Chandra’s Fury – good card if your opponent is playing a thopter deck or something with a lot of weenies.
  • Dragon Fodder – not good as a top deck, but if you can use them alongside a card like Nantuko Husk in a BR deck they’ll definitely show their usefulness.
  • Smash to Smithereens – should be a great sideboard card against UR Thopter/Artifact decks

 

Coming Up Next

Wow. Color me impressed. Black was a very solid color, and white had some of the best synergy I had seen in quite some time with the tap/renowned mechanic, but red has topped them all. It has good removal, strong creatures, and more than a few versatile abilities that will make combat both challenging and rewarding. I still think that UR Thopter decks are going to be really strong, but RW Renowned and BR Spell Mastery decks should also be able to get some wins. Other than blue, I don’t think you can go wrong with either red, white, or black as your main colors in Origins limited.

I’m heading off to my first midnight pre-release now so expect green to show up sometime Saturday evening along with my first thoughts on the Origins limited experience. I hope to hear back from some of you on how you did, as well as if you found any other cool synergies that I missed with my once over. Good luck at the pre-release this weekend, as well as any future limited events you do!

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