Ravnica Allegiance – 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, 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. For the most part, I will focus mainly on cards from 2.5 to 5 stars in my article. 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. Example: A creature that fills the curve, a spell that destroys an artifact. Probably filler to finish up your limited deck or needs synergy to be playable.
- 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. Example: A creature with a good ETB effect or decent activated ability. A spell that has a great effect but costs too much or has a big drawback. A good 2nd to 5th pick in draft.
- 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. Example: A creature that will win the game on its own if left unchecked and wins head to head battles often. A spell that has multiple effects or creates a huge swing in tempo. Usually a first pick in draft.
- 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. Example: A creature that is almost impossible to due to special abilities or recursion. A spell that wipes the board or gives you massive card advantage. “Windmill slam” first pick in limited.
This article will be covering the red playable cards from MTGRNA today. We’ll get a look at the rest of the spectacle cards for Rakdos, as well as a first look for Gruul’s Riot cards, which let you either give a creature haste when it comes into play, or a +1/+1 counter. Red also has some interesting burn options and combat tricks, but as to how effective they’ll be in this format is yet to be seen. Let’s take a look at the colors offerings this time around.
These cards showcase the new Riot ability fairly well. They aren’t super strong, but have abilities that could come in handy during combat. The best of this bunch is probably Ghor-Clan Wrecker. It has menace on a potential 3/3 body which is nothing to scoff at. I think most of the time you’ll be adding that +1/+1 counter to Riot cards and saving that haste trigger for all out final attacks or combat tricks that affect the whole battlefield.
Burning-Tree Vandal is a little more delicate with a 2/1 or 3/2 body, but on an open board late game you can get quite a bit of card filtering with it. Ditch those extra lands and get some gas! Clamor Shaman isn’t too exciting as a 2/2 or 1/1 for 3 mana, but if you’re looking to take your opponent’s best creature out of battle for one turn it’s a decent combat trick.
Ghor-Clan Wrecker – RATING: 3 Stars
Burning-Tree Vandal – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Clamor Shaman – RATING: 2 Stars
Aside from the 6/5 Rubblebelt Recluse for 5 mana that must attack each other, none of these cards are that scary by themselves, but in the right circumstances they can be. Tin Street Dodger is a good card to draw both early in the game and late game, as its ability can take out all of your opponents blockers if you have the mana. Good card to add combat tricks to or to put Auras on. Smelt-Ward Ignus is pseudo Act of Treason that only targets weaker creatures, but it could still come in handy if you’re playing against a lot of flyers or creatures with big back ends that have been making it hard for your to attack. Very useful in the right circumstances.
Dagger Caster is probably my favorite of the 4 though. Afterlife tokens and other troublesome 1 toughness creatures are going to be a pain in the neck, but Dagger Caster does a great job of clearing the board of them. The 3 toughness also makes it a decent blocker.
Rubbletbelt Recluse – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Tin Street Dodger – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Smelt-Ward Ignus – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Dagger Caster – RATING: 3 Stars
Red is a little light on the burn this time around. Flames of the Raze-Boar is good in a Gruul deck that has a large number of 4 power creatures. It turns the spell from an underwhelming burn spell into an instant speed Pyroclasm which isn’t bad considering how many decks play 2 toughness or less creatures. It hits Rakdos and Orzhov especially hard. It’s only problem is the 6 mana it costs. It’s kind of slow.
In a devoted Rakdos deck you’ll have no problem casting Skewer the Critics’ Spectacle cost. Great card to use to finish off a bigger creature or to just put your opponent in defense mode while you perpare for the lethal hit to finish the game. Perfectly fine in multiples, and at common it’s not that unlikely that you end up with a few in your pool.
Flames of the Raze-Boar – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Skewer the Critics – RATING: 3 Stars
Another card I like in red, if only because of the synergy it has with Burn Bright, is Goblin Gathering. It’s deceptively strong in draft if you can get a few of them. It’s mortal enemy is the Dagger Caster, but if you aren’t playing against another red deck all of those bodies can take over a game, especially if you have some kind of buff like Burn Bright to pump them up. Even in sealed it’s still somewhat playable as a 1 of, though not too exciting and probably just filler if you need more creatures.
Burn Bright – RATING: 2 Stars
Goblin Gathering – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Rumbling Ruin just might be one of the most powerful cards in a Gruul deck if I’m reading this right. If all of your creatures have +1/+1 counters, everybody is basically unblockable. If you have 1 counter, no tokens can block, if you have 2, no chumps. If you have or more? That’s game ending. I could see this going high in draft in packs 2 and 3, and possibly even in pack 1 if somebody decides to brew around it. Also probably worth a splash in Simic decks.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
Not sure how good this will be in limited, but basically drawing 2 cards for 3 mana in your main phase late game, or playing after damage and playing 3 cards on your next turn is good. Problem is that there is limited space for non-creature cards in your deck and cutting removal for this might not be a good idea.
RATING: 2.5 Stars
Other Cards that Might See Play
- Feral Maaka (2) – Vanilla bear, good on curve if you want to be aggressive.
- Gates Ablaze (2) – good in draft, not so much in sealed. Also hits your creatures which is bad. Still, a board wipe is a board wipe.
- Gravel-Hide Goblin (2) – Another good creature on the curve if you’re in Gruul, but otherwise it’s a worse Maaka at 2 drop.
- Scorchmark (2) – Very effective against Orzhov cards with Afterlife, but doesn’t work well against Simic or Gruul I think.
- Spikewheel Acrobat (2) – Glass cannon that can hit hard early if your opponent doesn’t have blockers, but dies to almost everything that blocks it.
Coming Up Next
Overall red is rather middling, but their abilities are top notch, especially Riot. Red’s true power lies in it’s multicolor cards, so think of the regular red cards more as a supplement to what you open in your pool that has red in it. They go well with the synergy, but aren’t really worth playing around with on their own. The burn spells are also kind of sad this time.
I apologize for the lateness of this post since I wanted to get it done before the pre-release, but I kinda found myself playing MTGRNA draft and sealed on Arena every night since it dropped so I haven’t had much time afterwards to write. I still plan to release green and multicolor over the next few days though, so be sure to check the articles out before you head off to draft with your new box or at some events next week!