Quick correction: I mistyped Underworld Dreams as affecting all players. It only affects your opponents. That, of course, is one of the many reasons why it is #1! Apologies for any confusion.
For brief reference, here is what the”funky animal” parts mean:
- Rattlesnake, for its ability to warn off opponents;
- Gorilla, for its ability to smash the board;
- Spider, for its ability to bait and surprise into card advantage;
- Pigeon, for its feeding off of large groups of people; and
- Plankton, for their general willingness to supply the entire animal kingdom with sustenance.
Let’s swing right into red, and then blue.
Red, in multiplayer, is a fabulous mix of careful punishment and reckless abandon. Because of its limitations in stopping enchantments, mono-red group decks are rare, but not impossible; one reckless and fast enough can often pull out the occasional win. But unless you splash another color, expect erratic results.
More than any other color, red suffers countermeasures that are very color specific, since they deal damage – and damage is more easily prevented than, say, black’s -x/-x strategies (which are still pretty susceptible to protection effects). In particular, protection from red creatures and spells are almost always effective against the cards below. I won’t bother saying it over and over again.
This wing of the Hall contains fewer creatures than most, but this edition has more red creatures than ever (seven). The top of the list has stayed virtually impenetrable through the years, with only card from Invasion block (two, if you count remakes) showing enough power to crack top ten. Those ten cards have amazing”gorilla” power, and every one changes the game radically.
A brief metagame note before we start. Many groups watch their play get overrun by artifacts, and never realize how well red can deal with them. If you want a flexible solution to artifacts, here’s a card that didn’t make the list, but easily could: Viashino Heretic. At worst, it’s a 1/3 body that comes out on turn three. At best, it’s a nightmare for Chimera or milling decks, or even Saproling decks that use stuff like Coat of Arms. And how about that five-color mage playing with Draco? The Heretic stops them all.
All right, here are the cards that actually made the list:
25. DESOLATION GIANT
[2RR, WW kicker, 3/3 Creature. When Desolation Giant comes into play, destroy all creatures you control. If you paid the kicker costs, destroy all other creatures instead.
Similar Cards: Nothing else in red destroys all creatures, and just all creatures, reliably and unconditionally. Higher on this list are some more extreme options.
If you’re playing double-white by turn six, you can probably manage it by turn four. And if you can manage it by turn four, why not play Wrath of God? Okay, because with Desolation Giant, you get a 3/3 creature afterward. Of course, you also get the same thing with Mageta the Lion…and he can do it over and over again.
All that said, it’s still a killer card. And best of all for the red mage, it cleans the board of protection from red creatures, which all too few cards on this list do.
Enhancements: The Giant is a bit of a loner. You could sport some regenerating creatures if you have the extra mana (or if you choose creatures that regenerate with life, like Deepwood Ghoul); or you could use Parallax Wave to save them, and bring them back. Speaking of which…
Countermeasures: If you pop the Giant out of play with Parallax Wave so that it comes back into play automatically, the kicker cost is unpayable, and all other creatures of that controller will be destroyed.
[3R Instant. Deals three damage to each attacking and each blocking creature.]
Similar cards: Lava Storm deals two damage to every attacking or every blocking creature.
An unusually patient card, Warpath is a great surprise to sweeping assaults – particularly those that one opponent is sending at another opponent. Of course, that’s more likely the more players there are – so the pigeon factor is a bit higher than for most red cards. Wait until all combat damage is on the stack, and then you’ll be sure to sweep even the larger creatures away.
Enhancements: You can force an attack with Imp’s Taunt or Angel’s Trumpet. You can force blocks with a Lure. You can finish off higher-toughness creatures with Scorching Lava and Incinerate, which also finish off regenerators that would otherwise survive the Warpath.
Countermeasures: As a defender, if you suspect a Warpath is coming, you could avoid blocking if you had cards like Choking Vines or Trap Runner. As an attacker, you have less options: Defenders don’t need to block, but attackers do need to attack! Damage prevention or redirection, especially Reflect Damage, will help out. You can also opt out of combat altogether, and finish your mission through burn or milling.
23. SEAL OF FIRE
[R Enchantment. Sacrifice Seal of Fire: This does 2 damage to target creature or player.]
Similar cards: Shock Troops is a 2/2 creature that acts as a Seal of Fire. Cinder Elemental is a 2/2 creature that you can tap and sack at instant speed to do an impressive X worth of damage. I like the Seal best, for its quickness and efficiency.
Seal of Fire is one of those workhorse cards that very few people notice getting the job done – but it really gets the job done. If you play as my group does – a player taking lethal damage loses all abilities, damage, and spells on the stack – then a Seal of Fire is a top-notch tool for keeping the late game under control.
Enhancements: Jokulhaups and Obliterate, interestingly enough, leave enchantments untouched. And a Seal of Fire on the table with a Death Pits of Rath is even better than a Seal of Doom, since it can wax black creatures.
Countermeasures: I’m only going to say this once, because I really don’t want it to get out and I’m hoping most people have stopped reading the countermeasures paragraphs by now: The best solution to a Rattlesnake card is to put on a pair of heavy boots and stomp on the damn thing, quickly. You’ll take a small hit, but it’s far better than waiting until you’re at one life and a virtual slave to the jerk with a measly Seal. Dance, little puppet man, dance!
[2R Sorcery. Sizzle deals three damage to each opponent.]
Similar cards: Many red universal damage cards exist; but very few focus just on players. Most recently, Flame Rift does four to everyone… But it also hits you.
Syphon Soul is a”similar” card to black’s number one, since those cards do precious universal damage and feed your path to victory. In red, universal damage is mundane. This doesn’t do anything to improve your board position, or your own life total. So Sizzle doesn’t even crack top 20.
But the benefit you get from a mere three mana is still impressive. Even in a simple five-player, you are dealing twelve damage across four opponents. Sizzle can finish a game beautifully.
Enhancements: Beyond the top card on this list, Sizzle isn’t given to enhancements. It is what it is: A way to bring the game a bit closer to its end.
Countermeasures: See my countermeasures for the top two creatures in red (#8, #7).
21. ARC LIGHTNING
[2R Sorcery. Deals three damage divided as you choose among target creatures and/or players.]
Similar cards: The Arc Mage deals a two-damage spread; Flameshot is an alternate casting-cost Arc for creatures only. Magma Burst deals Lightning Bolts to two targets of your choice; Jagged Lightning, for even more mana and at slower speed, does it to two creatures of your choice. Whadda deal! Far more impressive: Distributable-damage X spells like Fireball and Rolling Thunder.
This slot celebrates the pinpoint damage that red is, on occasion, capable of. The ability to take out a Soul Warden, Veteran Explorer, and Prodigal Sorcerer in one clean shot is of high value. At worst, you can slam someone for three at sorcery speed – not stellar, but at least it’s flexible.
Enhancements: You can play an Abyssal Gatekeeper and make it a target.
Countermeasures: Lashknife Barrier makes an arc work a lot harder, for much less gain. For those mages playing instant pump or protection spells, wait until all targets declared before announcing your Ramosian Rally, Reverent Mantra…or Magnify!
20. TWO-HEADED DRAGON
[4RR, 4/4 Creature. Flying. Flying. 1R: Two-Headed Dragon gets +2/+0 until end of turn. Two-Headed Dragon can’t be blocked except by two or more creatures. It may block one additional creature.]
Similar cards: While the Two-Headed is a direct descendant of the Shivan Dragon, for purposes of this Hall, it has more in common with the enchantments Goblin War Drums, which confounds simple blocking assignments; and Invasion Plans, which turn blocking on its head.
While multiplayer games are full of flyers, just about any board, at any point in time, has at least one player who has less than two flyers out. The Dragon combines the red theme of difficult blocking with another red theme: Big, honking dragons. Not only is the dragon hard to block – it’s an excellent blocker for those who are thinking of rushing you.
Enhancements: You don’t want this thing to tap! Serra’s Blessing or Gerrard’s Command are excellent ways to ensure your best blocker is available. Yare will give you the Dragon the ability to block an entire army – and possibly wipe it all out. If you’re annoyed that you have to pay 1R for each pump, you could always include a Heartstone, and pile on sixteen total damage the first time it swings with the original (six) casting mana open.
Countermeasures: Rather than trying to confound the Dragon’s awesome block/non-block abilities, simply treat it as you would any other game-stopping creature: Kill it conventionally. Order/Chaos isn’t just good on the red side! You could also wait until it is fully pumped, and then cast Agonizing Demise… With kicker, of course.
[5R, 5/5 Creature. Haste. When Thundermare comes into play, tap all other creatures.]
Similar cards: The phenomenally-inferior Shrieking Mogg (and no, I don’t want to hear about your Aluren deck…Well, okay, go ahead and send it in).
To get a high Spider rating, a card typically needs to be an instant. But a creature with haste that taps all other creatures is good enough to rate well. The more players there are, the longer the players to your immediate right will be suppressed and vulnerable to attack… And the more the players to your immediate left will enjoy your good sense in playing this classic card.
Enhancements: Leaving the obvious untapping cards out of the equation for the moment, consider cheap, instant-speed creatures like Defender of Law and Raging Kavu, or spells like Goblin Warrens and Afterlife. Man-lands like Ghitu Encampment are also frequently forgotten in the race to avenge the damage your horse did.
Countermeasures: Horseshoe Crabs and Morphlings usually don’t even have to use their untap ability; the red mage won’t even bother coming your way. (Who wants to play a card like Thundermare just to see it chump-blocked?) And of course, you could have your own instant-speed creatures or man-lands.
18. STAND OR FALL
[3R Enchantment. At the beginning of your combat phase, separate all creatures defending player controls into two face-up piles. Only creatures in the pile of that player’s choice may block this turn.]
Similar cards: Raging River, an old friend from Alpha, appears to be the inspiration for this Invasion divvy card.
Here’s a badly-regarded Invasion rare that should get a fairer hearing at the multiplayer table. It has many good things going for it: It threatens to punish players who divvy up your piles too well, opens up the game to a bit more aggression, can surprise someone on the turn you play it, and best of all it lets your opponents toy with each other.
Enhancements: You have two paths: Quantity of attackers (think goblins and/or Mogg Infestation) to overwhelm the reduced number of blockers; or quality of attackers – like the Two-Headed Dragon we just talked about – to roll past the brave half of the defending army. Tramplers like Rushwood Elemental and Spirit of the Night have a terrific day on offense. And”Lure”-style creatures like Rampaging Elephant may actually have a shot at surviving (and certainly don’t have to activate their ability as many times).
Countermeasures: With enough first strike creatures, you may have the ability to make any division unappealing. There are also specialty creatures, like Wall of Glare, that will help you pick the right pile, every time.
17. TECTONIC BREAK
[XR Sorcery. Each player sacrifices X lands.]
Similar cards: Bend or Break is the Invasion divvy rare that forces players to tap one pile of lands and lose the other.
Both Tectonic Break and Bend or Break are rather low-rent Armageddons. But they are adjustable, to a certain extent; and you generally get to keep a few of your own lands in the process.
Enhancements: A Groundskeeper will help you get your own lands back.
Countermeasures: There are obvious anti-land-destruction spells like Planar Rebirth and the like. Most are white. Any of those will do nicely. Your own Groundskeeper is nice, but the red mage will be packing burn, and the Groundskeeper isn’t exactly wearing sunblock.
16. TAHNGARTH, TALRUUM HERO
[3RR, 4/4 Creature. Attacking does not cause this to tap. 1R, tap: This deals damage equal to its power to target creature. That creature deals damage equal to its power to this.]
Similar cards: There’s an excellent case for Molten Hydra, which needs to build counters but is more flexible (and arguably more durable), to be the name in the Hall. But I’m favoring the newer card, for now.
I can understand why Wizards wouldn’t let Tahngarth deal damage to target player (not in theme for the card, and the reciprocal damage would be hard to calculate), but it pains me to see the poor minotaur restricted to creature removal.
But our cow-hero (who looks one heck of a lot more impressive in foil, alternate artwork form) has all the markings of a great multiplayer card: He has an unparalleled capacity to play offense and defense simultaneously, he warns off at least three-fourths of the creatures in existence, and he combines with a wide range of enhancers to fit your attitude…
Enhancements: Gerrard’s Command was the Planeshift common that many players immediately recognized as true synergy. But we can be more creative than that. How about Lashknife Barrier, which lets Tahngarth plow through a three-power and a two-power during combat? Or Kor Chant, which lets Tahngarth smack down a second creature effortlessly? Or Fires of Yavimaya, which after all lets us do what we love to do with Tahngarth, one turn earlier? Or Relentless Assault…which does require you to be careful and track how much damage poor, overworked Tahngarth has taken this turn?
Countermeasures: Instant-speed pump and/or burn is the quick answer.
15. ACIDIC SOIL
[2R Sorcery. Deals one damage to each player for each land he or she controls.]
Single-minded in purpose, and built to punish players for essentially doing nothing spectacular, Acidic Soil is considered in many corners to be an”unfair” card. Why should a player benefit from the fact that you’ve built up enough lands to operate?
But the card exists, and it is extremely effective in casual play. Usually, a mid-game Acidic Soil puts away at least two players. A late-game Acidic Soil, well, ends the game.
Enhancements: To the best of my knowledge, there is no spell that turns creatures into lands. Perhaps there ought to be.
Countermeasures:“Help me, Obi-blue. You are my only hope.” Sunder, or Counterspell, is it. Well, okay, there’s one more… But I’m saving it for those two creatures up ahead, at #8 and #7…
Of course, as with Armageddon, you can take a little less damage if you diversify your mana base to artifacts and creatures.
14. WHEEL OF FORTUNE
[2R Sorcery. Each player discards his or her hand and draws seven cards.]
One presumes you are playing this because most red mages spend out their hands relatively faster than most others. If you’re lucky, you’ll also flush some expensive enchantments out of opponents’ hands – and if you’re unlucky, you’ll help them draw the next one. About half the table will be glad you played this, and half will be ticked. Pay attention to who’s who.
Enhancements: With seven cards back in your hand,”chance” tutors like Gamble and Wild Research make more sense to use once more. Seven new cards could be seven new creatures for your Sneak Attack. And, of course, any card that has players discarding benefits from Megrim.
Countermeasures: Instants and open mana. If you dabble in power cards, Library of Alexandria gets”recharged” again.
13. AVATAR OF FURY
[6RR, 6/6 Creature. Flying. If any opponent controls seven or more lands, Avatar of Fury costs 6 less to cost. R: Avatar of Fury gets +1/+0 until end of turn.]
Similar cards: As with the Two-Headed Dragon, the Avatar traces its lineage ultimately to the Shivan Dragon.
The more players there are, the more chances that someone will have seven lands out by turn seven. You then get one of the top closing creatures in the game for RR, with four or five mana left over to play support cards such as:
Enhancements: Deflection or Misdirection, since the Avatar is almost always the single most threatening permanent on the board. Cho-Manno’s Blessing, for the same reason. Prophetic Bolt, if you can’t find either one and want to get rid of a blocker.
Horn of Greed is a great pre-Avatar card.
Countermeasures: Sitting at six lands is, at best, a delaying strategy. Within a turn or two, the red mage will simply hard cast the beast. Just play out your deck, and play the same stuff you would against a Two-Headed Dragon. I’d also add Backlash, Delirium, and Mirror Strike to this list, since it’s an auto-six damage (and perhaps more) every time.
12. AETHER FLASH
[2RR Enchantment. Whenever a creature comes into play, Aether Flash deals two damage to it.]
Similar cards: Aether Sting penalizes the creature’s caster, dealing one damage for each successful summon.
There are some players who benefit greatly from this card. But in an age where innovative, fragile creatures are all the rage (spellshapers, Invasion bears, battlemages, emissaries, masters, etc.), a simple two damage upon entry can make a great deal of difference.
Enhancements and Countermeasures: Fatties or regenerators. Too simple, too true.
11. MANA FLARE
[2R Enchantment. Whenever a player taps a land for mana, that land produces one additional mana of the same type.]
Similar cards: Mana Cache is a more complex, twisted version that may or may not build up colorless mana that anyone can use on their turn.
Neither black nor red are much for”plankton” cards, but red’s love for X spells occasionally takes it in some crazy directions.
Enhancements: Boundless. X spells are natural, but your other spells should also take the Flare into account. You want even-costed spells – and the fewer colors you use, the better. (I take some risks in a flank-designed Emperor deck using Shivan Zombie and Hypnotic Specter for early beats… And I pay the price every once in a while.)
Countermeasures: Don’t stop this card, unless you’re particularly low on life. Blue and white mages, especially (Counterspell, Misdirection, Congregate) shouldn’t mind this one bit. Green and black mages have a bit more work cut out for them; but with options like Death Grasp and Might of Oaks out there, things aren’t all that bad.
[2R Enchantment. At the end of each player’s turn, if that player didn’t play a spell that turn, Impatience deals 2 damage to him or her.]
Similar cards: The direct opposite, Spellshock, does 2 damage to a player every time he or she does play a spell. Both enchantments link to the pace of spells, so I consider them similar.
Yes, that’s a negative number on Rattlesnake. Be careful what you wish for!
Enhancements: Impatience and Spellshock form one of the most annoying (and inexpensive) combos in the game. Impatience also blends well with discard, since players will have fewer spells to play. Sphere of Resistance will make it more expensive for players to avoid damage. And Hesitation (while still letting them play the spell to avoid the damage) will add a sense of futility to the proceedings.
Countermeasures: Rancor on an Endless Wurm. This guy wants spells? Give him spells.
[RR Instant. Any one sorcery or instant spell just cast is duplicated. Treat Fork as an exact copy of target spell except that Fork remains red. Caster of Fork chooses the copy’s target.]
Your single, restricted copy of Fork takes on the gorilla, pigeon, and plankton characteristics of whatever instant or sorcery it copies: Counterspell, Disenchant, Ghitu Fire, Congregate, Drain Life, Prosperity, whatever.
Enhancements: If you don’t think anyone else will play anything worth Forking, put a bunch of cheap spells in your hand. A Bosium Strip or Relearn will give you multiple shots at this card (and will add to its”rattlesnake” value).
Countermeasures: Fork remains red, and regular pro-red strategies continue to work. Ivory Mask will make sure a Forked damage spell doesn’t touch you.
8. CRATER HELLION
[4RR, 6/6 Creature. Echo. When this comes into play, it deals 4 damage to all creatures.]
Similar cards: Dozens. Crater Hellion is a measured, creatures-only Earthquake. Tremor is even more measured; Fire Ants and Subterranean Spirit can make their own Tremors; Pyroclasm and Steam Blast hit a bit harder than Tremor; and Warmonger gives universal access to a universal damage machine.
No longer the best red creature in multiplayer, the Hellion still rocks the boat hard enough to stay in the top ten cards for the red Hall.
Enhancements: Whenever you play a creature or sorcery that deals this much damage, consider Rukh Eggs. They are terribly tasty when scrambled properly.
Countermeasures: As with many cards on this list that deal lots of damage to multiple victims, the best possible countermeasure is Reflect Damage.
7. BLOODFIRE COLOSSUS
[6RR, 6/6 Creature. R, Sacrifice Bloodfire Colossus: This deals 6 damage to each creature and player.]
Similar cards: The Colossus is an Inferno waiting to happen; Bloodfire Kavu is the same for Pyroclasm; and Bloodfire Dwarf is the same for Tremor. There are plenty more universal damage spells – and many are coming right up! – but the similarity here is in the sack ability.
There are cards with lesser overall ratings sitting in #1 slots in other colors. The best multiplayer creature red has to offer, the Bloodfire Colossus is an expensive but worthwhile statement to a multiplayer game that has gone on long enough. The Colossus’s creature removal and game-ending capabilities are not absolute – but you do not get any better without a pure mass kill card, like Wrath of God or Nevinyrral’s Disk.
Enhancements: What on earth else would you want to do with this card? Most 6/6 creatures, and particularly those that can sack for an Inferno, tend to come with their own enhancements. But if you’re dying to see a few more, keep reading down the list.
Countermeasures: See Crater Hellion above, and also consider packing some instant lifegain. A simple Bottle Gnomes of your own lets the Colossus’s controller know he doesn’t own you… At least not until you’re below three life.
6. GHITU WAR CRY
[2R Enchantment. R: Target creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.]
Similar cards: The Cry is based on Crown of Flames and Firebreathing, two local enchantments that allow for pumping a specific creature.
Like Warpath, the Ghitu War Cry is best used during a combat phase that doesn’t involve you one bit. After opponent A slips through opponent B’s defenses, pump A’s creature with the Cry.
Enhancements: Creatures with first strike, haste, evasion, and/or no tapping upon attack (the Lightning Angel and Spirit of the Night are your two best-case scenarios here) work particularly well with the Cry. You can also remove the threat of blocking with Chaos, Bedlam, etc.
Countermeasures: Lie in wait with bounce or other removal, until the pump is complete (but before damage goes on the stack).
[1RR Enchantment. Whenever a creature is dealt damage, Repercussion deals that much damage to that creature’s controller.]
Similar cards: Jackal Pup is the model creature for this global effect.
A great chain-reaction card, and an obvious invitation to shorten the game. Incredibly risky, and incredibly well worth it.
Enhancements and Countermeasures: There is barely a card on this list that Repercussion doesn’t enhance. And there is barely a countermeasure for red damage that doesn’t work against this card. Of course, the best way to break Repercussion’s terrifying symmetry is to run no creatures at all.
[6RR Sorcery. Obliterate can’t be countered. Destroy all artifacts, creatures, and lands. They can’t be regenerated.]
Similar cards: Jokulhaups is the (counterable) original. Wildfire takes a more modest swipe at both creatures and lands, leaving artifacts alone.
It still doesn’t get rid of enchantments… But it gets rid of everything else. While countermagic is usually not much of a concern in many groups, the added certainty that you get for another two mana is generally worth losing another two lands.
Enhancements: There are no enchantments that give only its controller mana. (Eladamri’s Vineyard comes closest, but everyone benefits.) Exploration will help you recover faster than most. In any case, preparing the right mana in your hand before playing is rather essential. So is using sackable lands like Svyelunite Temple. As for the enchantments you keep on the board, you might consider slowdown cards such as Aether Flash or Soul Barrier. Also consider just about any Nemesis Seal.
The penumbra creatures from Apocalypse are the latest great combo with a blow-up-the-world strategy.
Countermeasures: Sacred Ground is the ultimate countermeasure. In another victory for white, Angelic Renewal can bring back a Soltari Visionary, which in turn can attack and destroy whatever silly enchantment the Obliterate mage is trying to preserve.
3. THIEVES’ AUCTION
[4RRR Sorcery. Set aside all permanents. You choose one of those cards and put it into play tapped under your control. Then your opponent chooses one and puts it into play tapped under his or her control. Repeat this process until all cards set aside this way have been chosen. (Local enchantments with no permanent to enchant remain removed from the game.)]
Similar cards: Illicit Auction allows players to bid life for control of a target creature.
The person to your left feels that this is the best red multiplayer card. They will have the power to decide the game, in many instances. Make sure the player you enjoy the least is sitting to your right – they will likely be out of the game before they take their next turn.
This is, incidentally, what passes for enchantment control in red.
Enhancements: Make sure there is one extra red mana in your pool as you cast the Auction, and cast Brand after resolution. Having a green mana ready for Vitalize isn’t a bad idea, either. Any permanents you expect to give up should be”owner neutral” – Coat of Arms, Marble Titan, Awakening, Powerstone Minefield, and so on. That way you still enjoy the benefit.
Countermeasures: Most of the time, it’s a matter of choosing your permanents correctly during the Auction. Select those non-land permanents that your deck absolutely needs to function well – and make sure you scoop up any stifling enchantments or pro-red creatures that break the red mage’s back, if they’re available. Then, seek out as many creatures as possible. Finally, pay attention to the lands and colors people have. Seek to penalize those three- or four-color mages who only have one of a certain land – those lands may actually be worth more than some creatures.
Also, note that Absolute Law works just fine, no matter who controls it.
[3R Enchantment. Whenever any creature comes into play, that creature’s controller may choose to have it deal damage equal to its power to target creature or player.]
Similar cards: Brawl is an instant sort of Pandemonium, using the creatures on the table already.
While Pandemonium appears rather unsubtle (and often is), it has two less obvious elements that many players miss: First, it gets around protection from red (the damage is coming from the creature you play). Second, it penalizes creatureless decks more harshly than just about any card, and that will often dictate the order in which you deal damage.
Enhancements: These would be your creatures. Pangosaur, Timid Drake, and Jackalope are already classics. Penumbra Wurm is truly nasty. Multani is typically a player-remover. Note that none of these creatures are red; your deck probably deals enough red damage. If you really need more, throw in the Viashino trio: Sandscout, Sandstalker, and Cutthroat.
An Ivory Mask and Pandemonium in place will let you play Hunted Wumpus without fear.
Countermeasures: Unless you are playing a green beast deck, do not try to take on the Pandemonium’s controller. She is far more prepared than you are. Enchantment removal is typically the only realistic solution.
1. FURNACE OF RATH
[1RRR Enchantment. Double all damage assigned to any creature or player.]
I am trying to imagine the red card that would someday replace Furnace of Rath in this slot in the Hall. Mind you, I haven’t used this card in a deck for about a year, but there is no way to avoid the harsh reality this card presents: Everyone has half as much time as they used to.
Readers occasionally email and ask me to compare #1 picks across all colors: Which one is the”best”? Of course, it always depends on your personal style and that of your playgroup… But the Furnace is the only #1 pick that will let your group play more games in a given night, guaranteed. It takes cojones, even in an appropriately designed deck, to play it.
Enhancements: Rancor and Fireblast aren’t just quality cards; they’re unbelievable with a Furnace out. Mogg Maniac is a cute little trick I’ve advertised in this space before. And consider most of the other red cards in the Hall: The Colossus threatens the board with twelve damage, Sizzle does six to everyone, and Repercussion acts as a filter for quadrupled damage – it doubles when assigned to the creature, and then doubles again when passed on to the controller. Outside of red, consider Wave of Reckoning, Mirrorwood Treefolk (which I just realized should have been in the 25th slot for green… Wow, do I hate missing great cards like that!), and even a silly Prodigal Sorcerer. (If the Sorcerer sounds fragile, consider the fact that no one wants to waste a Shock dealing four points of damage to it when there are so many other viable targets running around, including yourself.)
Countermeasures: Unless you have Worship, Lich, or Ali from Cairo, you only have aggression in your favor. Swing hard and fast at the controller of the Furnace, and hope desperately that the rest of the table agrees with your threat assessment – because if you’re the only one swinging, you’re the only one getting hit back.