Dissension Constructed Review, Part IV: Red

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Mike continues his Constructed rundown of Dissension with a look at the Red cards. The Black cards bought us little in the way of Constructed power. Do the Red cards fan the flames? Read on to find out…

[Part I: White][Part II: Blue and Azorius][Part III: Black]

A new kind of split card...

Click the relevant for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

You know the drill.

Cackling Flames
I’m really not sure about my opinion on this card. I have been trying to figure out a deck where I would want to play it – mostly Block, to be fair – and even if I haven’t found Cackling Flames a home yet, I don’t hate it. The main issues are these:

1) In Standard, the non-Hellbent half of does not cut the mustard; we have two different (very good) three-damage burn spells for two mana, and one is greatly outclassed by the other. We have multiple three damage burn spells for three mana, and they aren’t played at all.

2) Dealing five damage is huge. Last year I was willing to pay five mana to deal five damage, that, or sacrifice a permanent.

Generally, people will play whatever burn spells they get – instant speed especially – as long as they can hit both creatures and players. The upside of five damage may give players the incentive they need to run this card, but I don’t know what deck it fits into at present.

Playable – Role Player

Now this is a burn spell I can get behind. Doubtless Demonfire is one of the finest spells in the set. It is strictly better not only than a current Standard Staple, but than Disintegrate. I was willing to jank up my PT Los Angeles test G/R deck to accommodate Urza’s Rage, and Demonfire lets me set up an inexorable and massive burn spell with far less effort.

Playable – Staple

Flame-Kin War Scout
This is an odd card. I don’t cotton to this particular creature.

The main thing seems to be sideboarding this in against a creature-poor deck that is somehow vulnerable to four damage effects. Like you can invest in Flame-Kin War Scout and start cracking, and then when the opponent plays his Nantuko Shade or whatever, the War Scout can shoot at it. Frankly this seems awful to me, because you can’t play your own follow-up creature and are stuck with a 2/4 and whatever you had pre-War Scout. Also your opponent can potentially bait the War Scout with either a creature that won’t die (a 4/5 let’s say) or some kind of stupid Saproling token or something, which would ruin your day.

Did I get this right? I just don’t see why I would ever want to play this card. For four mana I can get a Giant Solifuge! I am just a little sad because the last card with the word[s?] “Flame-Kin” in its name was used by ghweiss to produce the fastest combo deck at Pro Tour Los Angeles.

Constructed Unplayable

Flaring Flame-Kin
This card is dripping with potential. I am not particularly frightened of having Gray Ogres in my decks. I play with Nikko-Onna, Paladin en-Vec, Viridian Shaman and the like, don’t I? Quite frankly, Galvanic Arc is a higher pick than Strands of Undeath. Moldervine Cloak would set up a must-block creature, and even Shielding Plax or Treetop Bracers would be a fine bit of enhancement. I am going to enjoy trying to break this card, even if it turns out less than outstanding.

Playable – Role Player

Gnat Alley Creeper
You know what would be awesome? The look on the opponent’s face when you slap this down against his Azorius Air Force deck on turn 2.

You know what would suck? His responding with Court Hussar.

Constructed Unplayable

Ignorant Bliss
I love this card. I would rather play this than Delirium Skeins in B/R Rakdos (maindeck) almost all the time. It combines beautifully with so many Hellbent cards during combat (Jagged Poppet much?), and doesn’t throw away card advantage. More than most I am willing to invest in what Geordie would call “Pure” card advantage for Threshold-like effects, but then again, like most, I would rather have Mental Note in a two-land opening hand than Careful Study, if you know what I mean.

Playable – Flagship (okay, okay, “Role Player”… We shall see!)

Kill-Suit Cultist
I’m sure there are reasons why you might play this, but it seems rather reminiscent of Dan Paskin’s Raging Goblin Rule, if you take my meaning. I am not giving it Constructed Unplayable purely because Red Decks have historically played such cards as Mon’s Goblin Raiders and still managed to win, so I figure the Kill-Suit will have some sort of upside enough of the time that it is not completely unplayable. That said, I don’t see it getting past either of the non-Guild stamped Scorched Rusalka or Frenzied Goblin any time soon.

Playable – Role Player (probably not)

Kindle the Carnage
At first I thought that this card could be broken with Life from the Loam and some lands, but then I realized that lands deal zero damage and Life from the Loam dealing two at the cost of two cards in hand is not exactly my idea of a cheap date. That said, in some terrible deck in Extended maybe, you can probably discard all kinds of Golgari Grave-Trolls and Roar of the Wurm, but like I said, that would probably be awful. It seems to me that I am missing something on this card, but I can’t imagine wanting to play it at present.

Constructed Unplayable

Ogre Gatecrasher
The best deck in Standard has seven-plus Walls after boarding, and Carven Caryatid should be a defining card of Ravnica Block Constructed. As such, the Gatecrasher should be a solid sideboard card, minimum. Its worst-case scenario is not that bad at all (Hill Giant much?).

Playable – Role Player

Psychotic Fury
As with Ignorant Bliss, this card tickles my inner Johnny. I love two-mana cantrips, and Red gets precious few. Psychotic Fury seems long on potential, if not straight-up breakable… Third turn Avatar of Discord, play my fourth mana, 1B to double up on the Psychotic Fury I held, crack for 10, untap crack for 10? All in the air? Like Shrapnel Blast, this card needs its own deck…

Playable – Role Player

Rakdos Pit Dragon
I ran a whole Preview article on this a few weeks back. This card can be played as a finisher in another beatdown deck or have a deck built around it to maximize the many lines of text.

Playable – Staple or Flagship (you pick based on your deck)

You will be a hot dancer

Sandstorm Eidolon
One of the worst Eidolons… has the best picture. This creature is Squee or no. The breakable bits are all based on Squee-style card drawing, per the others already mentioned.

Playable – Role Player

Seal of Fire
El maximo burn spell in Extended is even better with the Hellbent cards. B/R and G/R will both love this card, and W/R will consider playing it as well; Zoo already grabbed it up.

Playable – Staple

Squealing Devil
I pretty much ignore that whole Howl from Beyond bit, but it will probably be relevant. 2/1 fear for two mana was awesome in the last Block, and this version can actually, um, block. The rating is simple… Rakdos will be proud to run this Devil on turn 2, and even happier to topdeck it from Hellbent on turn 10.

Playable – Staple

Stalking Vengeance
I really want to like this card. It’s awesome, and I think that along with cards like Simic Sky Swallower, sevens may be the new sixes when the Blocks rotate. The problem is that for a card to be great, it has to be in a great deck. I am attempting to imagine a deck where I would play this card, and I can’t think of one off the top of my head. We played Ryusei in Honolulu, and even if Stalking Vengeance were a six, Ryusei would have been better for URzaTron’s purposes (fighting North Side, basically)… I think. Maybe it would have been good Solifuge style / Blaze style?

There is no way I am giving this the Unplayable rating because, like I said, it is long on potential. Possibly when the Kamigawa Dragons leave Standard it will rule the ground.

Playable – Role Player

Stormscale Anarch
bschneid (formerly one of the greatest deck designers in Magic history, presently Lead Developer at R&D) says that Stormbind was never that good. This guy is a poor Stormbind. The activation cost is quite steep, and because the discard is at random, you don’t necessarily get to pick if you can toss a multicolored card. Maybe you can play mostly multicolored cards to break this, but somehow I doubt that a four mana 2/2 that requires seven mana before it gets off a single Shock will be breaking any formats.

Constructed Unplayable

Taste for Mayhem
I really like this new Rancor. Sure, it doesn’t have that other bit that made Rancor so good, but getting an additional four damage in seems really sexy. Flaring Flame-Kin perhaps? Possibly this isn’t good enough, but it seems like a nice mana-to-damage packet ratio.

Playable – Role Player

Utvara Scalper
You know as well as I do how good this creature is going to be in any 60-card format: not.

Constructed Unplayable

War’s Toll
This card is a great sideboard option against Blue. If you have multiple threats, you can time this using your two main phases to get one through, even if the opponent has multiple permission cards. Against control, Saprolings, and so on, this makes defense difficult… The opponent will not be able to attack with some and leave some back. The mana cost is a little clunky, but the effect of War’s Toll is rewarding for its specific purposes.

Playable – Role Player

Weight of Spires
The price is right… Not maindeck, I think.

Playable – Role Player

Whiptail Moloch
Whiptail Moloch is considerably worse than the never popular Panther Warriors. With an additional point of toughness, this would still be…

Constructed Unplayable

Red Constructed Cards of Note:

Red is a stark contrast to Black in terms of the quality of its Constructed cards. While Black was scrambling for even three noteworthy additions, Red is near-Blue in its potential players…

1) Demonfire – This card is just awesome… Better than an existing Staple, better than every Red-x burn card ever, with the possible exception of Fireball.
2) Rakdos Pit Dragon – Long on potential… People who are saying that it is not difficult to remove are missing the fact, I think, that a single hit will favorably end the game, if not that turn.
3) Seal of Fire – A defining Staple for the format. Better than Shock (as in Extended) and a powerful tool for Gruul Deck, Zoo, and others in Standard.

I like a long cluster of cards that cost 1R as well… Both the cantrip cards get my “synergy” gears spinning, and Squealing Devil seems like exactly the card that a certain type of deck would want, either on turn 2 or when in topdeck mode.

Tomorrow, the Green cards.