Five Articles In Five Days: Red Judgment All-Stars!

Zvi has Pro Tour experience and a rep as a rogue deckbuilder to review these cards. I can only offer anecdotes replete with”drive-by sack moonings” and tales of urination on statues. Oh, and some ideas for Red deckbuilding.

The outpouring of literary effort following Rizzo’s departure has flooded the Internet writing scene with fine pieces of work. People who normally don’t take it upon themselves to sit down at a keyboard and pound out a heartfelt treatise are compelled to do so by the extraordinary circumstances. Some, weary from the toll of creative exertion that writing can take, will not write again for many months. They are spent. Others will remain. Being a Magic writer is like being”one in a million” in China.

You may be special, but it seems there are a thousand people just like you.

Now more than ever, when you write, you’re not alone. Elsewhere, other late-night cups of coffee are brewed with purpose. Swivel chairs are rolled into position, traipsing softly over pile carpet floors with the expectation of great things. Knuckles are cracked, and the silence is broken with the minute sounds of trapped nitrogen being released from ten finger joints. Then the typing starts… And oh, how the articles roll in.

It’s times like this when you may start to wonder – is there anything about your writing that sets it apart from the rest of the pack? Questions like that can hurt you when you’re trying to get motivated.

After all, why continue writing when you’re just one of a hundred other guys, pounding out middle to high-quality articles to be read by the Shivan lunch-breakers and before-work net jockeys of the Magic scene? It’s hard to get it up for a ten-page monster when you feel like Ringo, with the more established writers playing the rest of the Beatles.

Luckily for chumps like me, sometimes the tough questions themselves are motivation enough to write. That’s the beauty of the pen and pencil game. Other careers don’t have it so good.

If you’re a carpenter, you can’t let your troubles show in your work. What are you going to do? Take a lathe and angrily fashion a chair? Likewise, distemper and melancholy don’t go over so well when you’re an air traffic controller or a crossing guard for preschool children.

“Hi, I’m Dan, your pilot. I’m feeling a little upset today. Have a nice flight.”

When you’re a writer, everything is fuel for the furnace. Anger is more ammunition for your latest rant – the medium where some of a scribe’s best work is done. On the other side of the fence, a good mood will carry you through a multi-paragraph romp on any subject that meets your fancy. When you’re a writer with ideas, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.

So let’s talk about being worth reading. Where do you find your motivation when you’re just one ant in a really big anthill of Internet writers? You read a lot of good work from a lot of good writers pretty much every day. Despite the stiff competition, you want to be worth reading. You want to be that guy that people click on if they only have time for one article before the carpool arrives, or if they have to leave the keyboard for twenty minutes to unpack a mail-order bride.

Well okay…I don’t know if you want the patronage and readership of the mail-order bride guys. Leave that demographic to more established writers. Everyone else, though.

Three more questions for the growing pile.

  • Are you worth reading?

  • And if you’re not, who is?

  • And why?

I’ve asked these questions of myself, as I sometimes wonder if my writing time might be better spent. The truth hurts, but there is hope.

The pros are better strategists when it comes to the minutiae – they have the access and the experience. While I know good cards from bad cards and good plays from bad plays, I can’t go into the more specialized areas of Magic strategy without getting in way over my head. Color selection for each seat in Team Rochester? I’ll pass on that one. I’m more qualified to swim the English Channel or check myself for breast cancer.

Many of the longtime players spin a better yarn. Which captivates you more? Mike Flores‘”Top Ten Battles Of All Time” or me telling you about the time two guys were going to have a throwdown at the store over a game of multiplayer? I’m overmatched there. Flores can tell stories about Hacker, the incomparable Altran, and his many other infamous compadres. He can tell Spite stories and regale the masses with the epic saga of his tapping that last land with Disrupt. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read some Flores. He’s the best there is.)

I have colorful compadres as well, amigo, but they’re less famous. I can tell you about the eBay feedback of the immortal walnuts, or the great story about Evil Matt Fox and his somewhat eloquent reasons for urinating on a statue of former Canadian Prime-Minister John Diefenbaker. Those stories have charm and panache, but you’ll never hear about the more famous events of Magic’s colorful history from a local boy like me. I can only offer the scoop on the more momentous slices of my experience, anecdotes replete with all the chills, spills, thrills and (yes)”drive-by sack moonings” you’ve come to expect from the Sarnia area players and the events they frequent.

If I have learned anything while taking tough beats as a writer, it’s this:

If you constantly compare yourself to the BPFlores, the Stephen Kings, the Mark Twains and the Tennysons, you’re going to come up short. I’d rather be 100% of me than some 55% Charles Dickens with a pervasive, destructive inferiority complex. The right advice is to write with everything you have and let that be good enough. Who wants to be a 55% Dickens? (A”Dick,” so to speak.) The right advice is to stay in the saddle. If you are read, so be it. If not, then that’s okay, too… You just need a new angle, a new style, or a new direction. Or maybe you just need time.

You need not have the literary wired aces of Mike Flores. To paraphrase what Matt Damon said in”Rounders” (a movie that tons of Magic writers refer to), the wordslinger has to believe he’s good enough to sit at that table.

Look at me. I don’t have a jump shot anymore. I can’t dance. I can’t fix a car or find a mate or draw a picture that looks like anything but sh*t. This is what I’ve got, so I’m still in here slugging away, giving you what I’ve got. Here I will stay as long as it’s fun for both sides. Come and read me if you want, and we’ll try to paint the town. Hell, If the jokes don’t work or my strategy writing contains less tech than a community of Mennonites, you at least have a new whipping boy to email with invective-laden rebuttals.

Or not.

Now let’s talk some Magic. Judgment Red cards, to be more specific.

Did you notice that like six people are starting a Judgement analysis at the same time? I’m just one monkey in a barrelful here. Alas and alack, that’s how it goes sometimes – there’s only so much ground to cover when and Judgment is the hot topic right now, it’s on more lips than chapstick. I’m going up against Zvi and others with this subject matter, but maybe I can still capture the attention of those people who don’t have the $3.99/month to read about how he’s going to break Quiet Speculation.

You’ll get a little less tech with my brand, but the flip side of the coin carries the following caveat – chances of any”drive-by mooning” anecdotes from Mowshowitz are slim. The guy won PT: Tokyo, but he doesn’t have friends who will drop their pants and destroy the innocence of everyone in a passing sedan for a mere thirty bucks.

Here’s the river, down and dirty. I think you’ve got that ace, gentle reader, but I’m going to pay for it.

Five Articles In Five Days: Red Judgment All-Stars!



Creature – Incarnation


As long as ~this~ is in your graveyard and you control a mountain, all creatures you control gain haste.

“For its time as a mortal, Anger chose a shell of boiling rock.” – Scroll of beginning


Fervor was just on the edge of being good, and so was Fires Of Yavimaya…but only because it fit into the perfect colors. So is Anger any good?

I’ll answer that: Anger has the potential to be great.

Your first thought is to get him into the graveyard fast… And at first, glance it looks like that might cost you some card advantage. Entomb is one idea – you can Entomb Anger on turn 1, lay a Mountain on turn 2 and start serving with Shivan Zombies, Vicious Kavu and Phyrexian Scutas. That isn’t the best option, though – think Blue or Green for best effects.

Or, how about this… In a variant of Kibler’s”Rug”!

Turn 1: Forest, Bird.

Turn 2: City Of Brass, Wild Mongrel, go.

Turn 3: Mountain, discard Anger to give Mongrel +1/+1, discard Roar Of The Wurm to give Mongrel +1/+1, cast Roar Of The Wurm, attack for ten.

Turn 4: Yavimaya Coast, Violent Eruption blockers, attack for ten.

Or this:

Turn 1: Forest, go.

Turn 2: Island, Merfolk Looter, go.

Turn 3: Yavimaya Coast, EOT Loot, discard Anger.

Turn 4: Mountain, Flametongue your guy, attack for 4. EOT Loot, discard Roar of The Wurm.

Turn 5: Island, cast Roar of the Wurm, LOOT, Circular Logic your bounce, attack for 10.

Or how about just U/R?

Turn 1: Mountain, go.

Turn 2: Island, Aquamoeba, discard Anger, attack for 3.

Turn 3: Island, attack for 1. On your turn, Circular Logic your spell.

Turn 4: Mountain, Flametongue your blocker, attack for 5.

Turn 5: Savage Firecat, discard Wonder (Blue Incarnation) to Aquamoeba, attack for fourteen in the air.

Or R/G, where he’s like a Fires Of Yavimaya that works even if he’s countered?

Turn 1: Forest, Llanowar Elf.

Turn 2: Mountain, Call Of The Herd.

Turn 3: Karplusan Forest, Wild Mongrel, discard Anger, attack for 6.

Turn 4: Shivan Wurm, attack for 12.

Even if you draw Mr. Grumpy with no way to discard him, Anger isn’t a total loss. If you think about it, Anger is similar to Dodecapod, or Ichorid. You want him in your graveyard anyway, where the big goof is like an enchantment that can’t be removed in the conventional manner. Hope for a Ravenous Rat to happen along.

The above scenarios have a lot of wishful thinking involved, but if you think of Anger as the Fires that can’t be countered and that soaks up an Edict, you’re on your way to finding out just how much potential this guy has. Good luck with him.

Book Burning



Unless a player has ~this~ deal 6 damage to him or her, put the top 6 cards of target player’s library into his or her graveyard.

The wizard’s spellbook was full of burning questions.

Speaking of Anger, this is a nifty way to get him into your graveyard. You want to talk broken? How about this:


Turn 1: Forest.

Turn 2: Mountain, Book Burning targeting yourself. (Or the guy takes 6, this isn’t so bad either.). Mill Anger and 6 other cards into the graveyard, possibly including Call Of The Herd or Firebolt, and including 3 land. Attack for 1.

Turn 3: Werebear, Nimble Mongoose, attack for seven.

Turn 4: Book Burning again, milling three more land, a Flametongue Kavu, and a Genesis. Tap Werebear to cast 6/6 Terravore. Attack for 9.

The rest of the game, you recur Flametongue Kavu with Genesis and laugh as you lay the beatdown. You think a control deck has a chance in hell of beating a deck with Genesis in it? Not unless they start running serious countermeasures (which they will). They won’t want to take the six from Book Burning, either.

And what happens if you mill a Recoup into the graveyard, or have one in hand? Book Burning redux a few turns down the road. Recoup is underplayed, and it might be because there aren’t enough powerful sorceries to abuse it. That may change.

And what, do you ask, happens when you turn the scope around and aim Book Burning at your opponent? Remember how I told you Guiltfeeder was going to be good? Well, if you have a Guiltfeeder (check the Black analysis for the card listing) on the table, your opponent will either take six damage… Or lose six more life when the Guiltfeeder attacks. That’s a beating.

As long as you play a good amount of flashback, Incarnation, and Threshold cards, Book Burning is like an Ancestral. Say you Book Burning and mill an Anger, a Call of the Herd, and a Firebolt into the graveyard. You have just basically cast one spell and given yourself the option for two more. You’ve essentially cast an Enchantment that reads”All creatures you control gain haste.” At the same time, you’ve got two points of direct damage and a 3/3 Elephant (with haste!) all set to go from your”second hand”… The graveyard. That’s not an Ancestral, but like Quiet Speculation, it’s damn close.

Book Burning is nuts with Terravore. It’s nuts with Werebear and Nimble Mongoose. It’s nuts with Incarnations like Anger or Genesis. It’s nuts with Riftstone Portal (Mystic Enforcer, anyone?). It’s nuts when it just domes the guy for six!

It’s great with Recoup. Hell, it might make Pedantic Learning playable. This card sets up more graveyard combinations than an undead dating service.


Hey come on, that was a good one.



What about turn 2 Book Burning, milling Anger… Turn 4 Fledgling Dragon (listed below) and attack for five? Book Burning is the absolute nuts. The cashew of cashews. Grab four of this common, put them in any sort of deck that applies pressure, and go from there. I’m betting people will start taking the six damage before too long.


Breaking Point



Destroy all creatures unless a player has Breaking Point deal 6 damage to him or her. Creatures destroyed this way can’t be regenerated.


Hmm… A control card you can’t play in a control deck. This isn’t even close to Wrath Of God; it’s not even the same type of card. Where could a card like this work? Well, it needs to go into a deck that plays few creatures, so beatdown won’t do it.

I’m thinking if this offering is going to be played, it’s going to be in either mono-red SRB, or Counter-Burn. Mono-red burn has often had difficulties finishing off opponents who use more efficient damage sources. The poor burn player will sometimes be forced to use four or five burn spells to get rid of attacking creatures instead of sending them at an opponent’s dome. Used properly, this card will either keep the pressure on with six damage, or take the pressure off by removing every possible attacker.

A Firebolt on turn 1, a Volcanic Hammer on turn 2… And on turn 3, will the U/G player sacrifice his Mongrel and Arrogant Wurm to avoid the six damage? Burn is usually a terrible win condition, but this is just efficient enough to earn a sideboard or maindeck slot, if you consider that it can be sideboarded out against creature-light decks. If there’s a critical mass of efficient burn spells in the environment, you might try something like this, just for kicks.

Try this sample”overkill” decklist on for size:

Test SRB

4x Firebolt

4x Violent Eruption

4x Urza’s Rage

4x Skizzik

4x Breaking Point

4x Browbeat (another”punishment” card – see the entry below)

4x Fiery Temper

4x Lava Dart (see the entry below)

4x Sonic Seizure

2x Seismic Assault (or whichever two burn-style finishers you want to try, could be anything)

18x Mountain

4x Barbarian Ring

Yes, yes, I know…glaring holes and trouble with any number of sideboard cards.

All I want is to see if the deck warrants further examination. Breaking Point might be the key to getting the goldfish kill up there faster than beatdown decks. If you see the Breaking Point in an opening hand, you know your goldfish kill is going to be fast if your opponent doesn’t lose all of his creatures on turn 3. Many decks will even help you out with a truckload of painland damage.

It’s a long shot, but it might work.




Unless a player has ~this~ deal 5 damage to him or her, target player draws three cards.

“Even the threat of power has power.” – Jeska, warrior adept

Another Ancestral Recall wannabe. Like Breaking Point above, it’s only good if you’re playing a deck that puts on the pressure. This card will either get you five damage closer to victory, or stop you from running out of gas. Not too shabby!

You have to watch it with these types of cards, though – sometimes they’re not even close to as good as they appear. Quite a few people thought that Skullscorch, the first”punishment” card, might test well – and it turned out to be completely worthless. Browbeat and Breaking point are similar to Skullscorch (which might have been playable if it did six damage instead of four), but tweaked such that they have more powerful effects and more deadly choices.

Browbeat’s five damage vs. Ancestral for me is going to net you five damage a lot of the time, so you have to ask yourself… Just how good is this thing? It’s an undercosted Lava Axe that gives your opponent an out. It’s sure as heck not an Ancestral, and any opposing player in good position will take the five damage and live dangerously rather than give you three cards. As such, the comeback potential isn’t exactly staggering.

Testing is going to have to have to come up with the answers for this card – I just can’t tell how good it will be. Unlike Breaking Point, it can be played in a Frog In A Blender-style fast beatdown deck, since it doesn’t destroy all of your own creatures. Maybe that bit of increased flexibility will prevent this card from being the Skullscorch of Judgment. At least you could trade Skullscorch at first by claiming it was the”new hymn.”

Burning Wish



Choose a sorcery you own from outside the game, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Remove ~this~ from the game.

She wished for a weapon, but not for the skill to wield it.

The wishes are hard to write about. They can be used to fetch most anything. Will the Highlander/Utility Belt sideboard strategy pay dividends? Will this see play in Standard?

Who knows? I’m just not smart enough to make a guess at how this card will be most effectively used without doing the testing myself, and watching what others do.

Burning Wish may have more potential than any of the other wishes, especially in Type 1. Enchantments are the most dangerous type of spell, but the White wish costs 3WW. Sorceries are also very powerful, and this wish costs only 1R. Yawgmoth’s Will twice, anyone? Go get that Pyroclasm out of the Sideboard?


I feel like an idiot suggesting strategies for this card. You’ll come up with your own, or find better ones than I can provide. Once I’ve played with this sucker for a month or so, we’ll revisit Burning Boy and his four brothers.

Firecat Blitz



Put X 1/1 red Cat creature tokens with haste into play. Remove them from the game at end of turn.

Flashback: RR, Sacrifice X Mountains

Marginal. Some quick notes and ideas on this card:

  • A possible way to gain threshold

  • Might be good with Rites Of Initiation

  • Can pump up that Terravore if you have him

  • I’m not wearing any pants

Hey, wait… Ah, hell. I’ll leave it in.

Flaring Pain



Damage can’t be prevented this turn

Flashback: R

“Bitch imma kill you!” – Maloc Shady, slim lavamancer

Okay, I made up the flavor text.

The game has needed this card for a long time. I like it because it’s a sideboard card for Constructed that’s very playable in both Constructed and Limited, especially with the Phantom creatures in this set.

Might see play in many formats, from Type 1 on down. The question is, is this a better sideboard card against Keeper than say, Red Elemental Blast? Is there room to use both? Is it better to just splash for Disenchant? You know what I’m going to say next:

Testing will tell.

Though the burn deck that needs this doesn’t exist in Standard right now, it might someday. We’ll see what happens.

Fledgling Dragon


Creature – Dragon


Threshold: ~this~ gets +3/3+ and has”R: ~this~ gets +1/+0 until end of turn.”


Check out these chops with R/G Incarnation.dec:

Turn 1: Forest, Bird, go.

Turn 2: Mountain, Book Burning, mill Anger and 5 other cards including Genesis.

Turn 3: Mountain, Fledgling Dragon, attack for 5.

Turn 4: Karplusan Forest, attack for 10.

This is a god draw of course, but hey, even if the Dragon is countered or killed, you can just get him back with Genesis. Or maybe the guy will just take six from Book Burning and have to deal with the Dragon anyhow. Either way, you win!

Fledgling Dragon is great. He kicks ass like a Shivan, but you don’t have to run a ridiculous landcount to get him out there. This guy is the new Rathi, and he’ll go in any Threshold deck that will have him. Though I’m sure the price on Fledgling Dragon will go up to about $5000/each, try to get four… Not only are they cool, but they’re good. Any deck that wanted to run Shivan but thought the casting cost was too annoying a hurdle will want to give these guys a try.

They even fit the Wildfire manacurve better. Break out those Fire Diamonds and Millikins! Or what about…


Turn 1: Mountain, go.

Turn 2: Mountain, Millikin, go.

Turn 3: Mountain, Fledgling Dragon, go.

Turn 4: Devastating Dreams for three; hey look, you have no land and all your creatures just died! Attack for five, go.

Though you still need the landcount from hell to try this out, the casting cost of Fledgling Dragon lets you pull tricks earlier in the game. I’m going after a bunch of these bad boys. Anyone need a kidney? I’ll let it go cheap.

Lava Dart



~this~ deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

Flashback: Sacrifice a mountain

Firebolt is better, but this card isn’t bad. Any red deck that needs land in the graveyard for whatever reason (Terravore?) should at least consider this Shade-killing, double-duty ping spell as an alternative to stuff like Shock. Should you play this over Fire/Ice? It does have slightly different functionality – you can kill a 1/1 on back-to-back turns, for example – but it’s nothing to get excited about. Might see some play.

Man, that was bland. How can I spice this sucker up?

Ah, f*** it. Onward!

Shaman’s Trance



Until end of turn, other players can’t play spells from their graveyards and you may play cards in other players graveyards as if they were in your graveyard.

Judgment is going to usher in a lot of graveyard craziness. As such, this might have been a good sideboard card, generating some nifty card advantage… Except it’s too expensive. Even stealing a Roar Of The Wurm costs seven mana. Firebolt is eight. This could improve a little with the new”alternate flashback costs” in Judgement, like Lava Dart”Sacrifice a mountain,” but this card still needs to be two mana cheaper… Especially since it isn’t a cantrip.

Is the”Can’t play spells from graveyard” part of the ability good enough to warrant a sideboard slot on its own? Nope. Not without it being a cantrip. Stay away from this one.

Could be fun in T1 with Yawgmoth’s Will, though that’s too flashy to be of much practical use.

Okay, that’s about it for playable Red. I can’t wait to try some of these cards out, especially Book Burning and Anger in conjunction with broken beatdown/threshold creatures. Heck, even White Weenie threshold decks could use that card.

Time for me to head out. I’ll see you tomorrow with the green. In the meantime, don’t leave the table if you’ve got those literary aces. Bet strong with those pocket rockets and take it down. I’ll see you back at the table.

Geordie Tait

[email protected]

“Your daddy he is.”


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