Hello, and welcome to Mirrodin Besieged preview week, and here at Star City Games, I’m honored to present a nifty new rare card that I
suspect Adrian Sullivan may very well love (or at least like). Behold, Red Sun’s Zenith!
No, it doesn’t break any new ground; it doesn’t feature a brand new mechanic or a new spin on something from Scars of Mirrodin.
Instead, it’s the offspring of two previous red spells with decent pedigree, a mixing of nuance that may very well be exactly the card
you’re looking for in your future deckbuilding endeavors.
Papa Red Spell: Disintegrate
On the one side of its family tree is Disintegrate, an old-school card that typically got ignored compared to the more flexible and sexier Fireball. It
was the George McFly of Magic back in the day. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many good regenerating creatures in the early days of Magic, so
Fireball was the go-to red X-spell back in the day, since it could kill something small early in the game, kill multiple small things later in the
game, and to finish the game, could go right to the face as a sink for all your extra mana. Fireball was the card that would steal your lunch money,
throw the winning touchdown, and sleep with your girlfriend.
Sometimes though… sometimes your opponent would play some funky graveyard recursion deck with Nether Shadows and Krovikan Horrors, and your
Lightning Bolt or Fireball couldn’t do anything to stop it. For those corner cases, Disintegrate was what you needed; your George McFly would
step up to do the deed and end up with the beautiful Lea Thompson.
Mama Red Spell: Beacon of Destruction
The other side of the family tree isn’t quite so old-school but has Mirrodin roots in the Beacon cycle from Fifth Dawn. The Beacon cycle
didn’t get picked up and played in many tournament decks outside of the briefly exciting Beacon of Creation/Blasting Station decks, but I
remember Adrian Sullivan being excited about the red one, Beacon of Destruction. Back in 2007, he wrote about Johnny Walker Red and played a
full four copies. The fun thing about the Beacon cycle was the “use me and shuffle me back in” mechanic, so you could always incrementally
increase the odds of drawing the spell again and again as the game progressed. When you were playing a burn deck, knowing that you always had 3-4
copies of Beacon of Destruction remaining in your deck gave you comfort while terrifying your opponent, as he dwindled in life.
New Kid on the Block
So now we’ve got Red Sun’s Zenith, a very red X-spell that nicely blends classic flavors to bring a new taste. The question is do we have
another Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup here, two great tastes that taste great together? You can definitely pick at the edges and see a few downgrades from
the family treeâ€”the original Disintegrate could nail regenerators, while Red Sun’s Zenith cannot. Beacon of Destruction was an instant,
while Red Sun’s Zenith is a slow sorcery.
Still, Red Sun’s Zenith does some things very well that might find a valuable role to fill in some current or future deck design. Some decks are
capable of generating a ton of mana later on and use X-spells as their kill condition, but you always have the problem of drawing that X-spell early
and needing to use it to survive. Red Sun’s Zenith doesn’t have that problem; use it early to kill Birds of Paradise, Lotus Cobra, or
Plated Geopede, and you can still draw it later to kill Baneslayer Angel or Primeval Titan. As good as Beacon of Destruction was, its damage was locked
in at five no matter how big or small the target was.
We also have some problematic graveyard recursion creatures you may very well want a way to get rid of permanently without resorting to specific
graveyard hateâ€”Red Sun’s Zenith seems like a particularly good answer to a hard-cast Vengevine despite taking four on its initial attack.
Let’s not forget too sometimes you’ll want to use this to take down planeswalkers as well.
What About Commander?
Obviously, I had to weigh in on Red Sun’s Zenith in Commander! I think this a fine card in multiplayer formats, since it does scale quite nicely
as the game goes onâ€”use it early if you need to, knowing that you’ll always have a chance to draw it later. Commander is a format where
getting a free library shuffle effect is also quite handy alongside cards like Sensei’s Divining Top, Sylvan Library, and Scroll Rack. I suspect
Red Sun’s Zenith will be Rosheen Meanderer’s #1 favorite card. In fact, maybe it’s time I start a Rosheen card pile to have ready for
Mirrodin Besieged’s release…
Final (Initial) Verdict
While I imagine a copy of this will surely find its way into most R/X Commander decks (and be an auto-include for Rosheen Meanderer), is it going to
make a splash in Constructed? It obviously pales in comparison to Lightning Bolt, which deals three damage at instant speed for a quarter of the mana
that Red Sun’s Zenith does at sorcery speed.
However, I think we can all agree that Lightning Bolt is way ahead of the power curve, and judging a card like this against it isn’t really fair.
Yes, your red deck is going to start with four copies of Lightning Bolt, but if you need some additional direct damage, I think Red Sun’s Zenith
might prove its worth depending on what specific jobs you need some of your deck slots to do. At some point in the next two years or so, you just might
need a scalable, direct-damage X-spell that shuffles back into your library, and if you do, Red Sun’s Zenith is standing by to make sweet love to
Lorraine Baines and produce our hero Marty McFly, who just might save the future.