Twenty-eight cards of each color…
Only twenty-eight red spells in the new major set. That sucks.
On the plus side, only twenty-eight blue spells, so all is not lost. After all, everyone can use artifacts…
Being from Liverpool, my favourite color is Red. Of course, half the city prefers Blue. We have a name for those such afflicted – but decorum prevents me from typing it on a family web-site such as StarCityGames. I’ve achieved a little success with red beatdown (emphasis on the word ‘little’ here), and I know what I like when it comes to new red spells.
This article shall examine the red cards that I believe will make an impact in Type 2 and Extended play, with the focus on improving and extending the arsenal of the aggressive mono-red stalwart. I shall also cherry-pick the artifacts that’ll boost a red beatdown machine, and examine a few cards that will give the noble Sligh player a few headaches for the next couple of year.
There’ll be no tenuous”grading” system from me. Affixing an arbitrary number to the usefulness of a card seems at odds with the ethos of the game. There’s a place for every card, and every card has its place. No, I’ll simply be throwing some thoughts on what I think are the stronger cards in Mirrodin. Hopefully, some of the shtick will stick
Before we start, however, let me reiterate one of the basic tenets of Magic:
Playing red spells will make you look cool.
Remember this, and all will be well.
And so, in no particular order, the”Possibly-Good” Red Cards of Mirrodin.
I love land destruction. Blowing up resources turn after turn, slapping down a resplendent Magnivore or Shivan Dragon and screaming”Go, you big red fire engine!” as you swing for the win? Beautiful.
Any red land destruction spell for three mana will see play, and the added Shock effect is just gravy. Of course, LD has seen little success of late, due to lack of decent support cards (especially targeted removal). As a replacement for Pillage, this may see some action in Standard – but the versatility of Pillage, particularly in this age of artifacts, will be sorely missed. With Terror back as good, old-fashioned spot removal, maybe R/B LD will re-surface. I do hope so: Shivan Dragons are very cool.
For extended, I can’t see this making the cut. Red Deck Wins 02/03 saw people boarding in the mighty Pillage to tackle tough, mana-intensive matchups such as The Rock. Molten Rain, while nice for the dedicated LD player, shouldn’t make waves in this format.
Five damage, for two mana, at instant speed, is not something to be sniffed at. Of course, the drawback could be oppressive, but with a little thought it shouldn’t be too difficult to get round this. Mirrodin brings us the artifact lands: Couple these with a complement of Chrome Moxen (excellent mana acceleration for quick red, as we’ll discuss later), and some Isochron Scepters, and there are ten to twelve artifacts for you to play with. In a deck such as Burning Bridge, the Ensnaring Bridge itself can be flung for the win.
Extended may give this card a home in the artifact-heavy Wildfire decks, but I can think of much better things I’d rather be doing with the obscene amounts of mana available. Urza’s Rage with kicker, anyone?
A note to R&D: All red creatures should be goblins. Except dragons.
Hell, no, even dragons should be goblins. That is all. Move along, citizens, there’s nothing to see here.
I mean, what is a Slith? It sounds like George Lucas giving birth to a snake.
Anyway, a 1/1 haste guy for RR isn’t too exciting – but this guy, if left unchecked, can get scary pretty quickly. Put him out on turn 1 with a Chrome Mox, and he could be pretty dangerous. Coupled with the usual compliment of removal and cheap guys, he may see play.
Naturally, his big drawback is that he’s not a goblin. This, more than anything, will see him sat in the kitchen at the mono-red party, talking to a pile of coats.
The success of this card depends largely on the impact Mirrodin has on the constructed formats. For Type 2, Shatter may be the obvious choice as the sideboard card should any powerful artifact-dependant decks spring up. However, if Chalice of the Void sees much play (which it will), Detonate is a cheerful and painful solution to the crippling Chalice set on two.
"It can’t be regenerated"…
You gotta like them onions.
Fists of the Anvil
Okay, so I’m reaching a little…
This is the kind of card that will beat you, and you’ll not be happy when it does. All kids love power-boosting effects. While it’s no Reckless Charge, this card will cause heartache: Some random seven-year old with his eighty-five-card goblin deck will swing unchecked and pump the anvilled fist. Don’t play it yourself, but recognize it as a possible danger.
HEAR THE CANNONS ROAR!
Drums pounding, quaking the earth itself!
Tremble, mere mortals, and prepare to meet thy doom!
From beyond the horizon, breasting the tumbling hills beneath it, comes the mighty War Elemental…
…And it’s tiny.
How on God’s green earth can a card called War Elemental start life as a 1/1? Just christen it”Asthmatic Chihuahua” and be done with it.
This is probably a terrible card, but maybe… Can you put it’s coming-into-play effect on the stack, then damage your opponent at instant speed (with Shock, for instance), thus making it a big guy when the coming-into-play effect resolves?
I doubt it. It doesn’t feel right.
Still, nice try, eh?
I really wish this was good. I’d be laughing like a drain every time I drew it.
Unfortunately… Well, what’s that card say? If you lose a flip, Fiery Gambit has no effect. This alone makes the card unplayable. Win two flips, then lose the money-shot? Tough crack, Jack.
No one will ever, ever deal six damage to all opponents with this card, even if they would win the game immediately by doing so. I mean, draw nine cards and untap all lands you control! Who wouldn’t risk a final flip for such a fabulous payoff?
The sad fact is that this card will have absolutely no effect more than 50% of the time.
As with most coin-flip cards, this one will sit in the trade folder. There is, however, a slim glimmer of hope…
Draw nine cards and untap all lands you control.
The lure of the ludicrous will make people hungry to break this card (with, I dunno, some combination of Krark’s Thumb and Twiddle). I know it’s beyond me, but someone out there holds the key. Please, I’m begging you… Someone make this card playable. The world needs more laughter.
Well, that about wraps it up for the decent red beatdown-flavored cards in Mirrodin. I hoped you enjoyed my analysis. Now I’ll be going on to consi –
Are there any goblins to play with?
Well… yes, there’s a couple, I suppose… They’re not very good, though.
Sorry, what was that? You want me to tell you about them? Are you sure?
Hmmm… Okay, if you insist…
… erm… he’s a goblin…
WHAT IN THE WORLD CAN THAT BE?
On the plus side, he’s a Berserker. Every time you cast him, you can sing "My love for you is like a truck, Berserrrr-kerrrr" in true Russian Metal style.
Okay, now I’ll move onto the contenders from the artifacts in Mirrodin. As we know, there are quite a few goodies to choose from, and some of them will slot nicely into a solid red beatdown deck. My main complaint with the new card-face (an argument long since redundant) is the changing of artifacts from brown to silver. With over a hundred artifacts in Mirrodin, I’m going to get used to the change very quickly.
Let battle commence!
Get them early. Everyone will want four of these beauties.
These are the no-brainers of the set. With a fast beatdown deck, laying an extra”land” on turn 1 can simply win games there and then. In the current Type 2 build of goblin decks, the Chrome Mox can be Skirk Prospectors #4 through #8, aiding the consistency of the turn 2 Goblin Warchief. They can be sacrificed to Shrapnel Blast for a cheeky five points of damage.
And their true beauty lies in the fact that they’ll see play in a huge number of diverse decks over the coming months. Truly the chase rare of the set.
The world and his horse have talked over the merits of this card. I for one can see it being banned in most formats. Coupled with the power of the Chrome Mox, it can hit the deck on turn 1.
- Imprint a Boomerang, laugh.
- Imprint an Orim’s Chant, laugh.
- Imprint a Fog, or a Moment’s Peace, laugh.
- Imprint a tutor effect, laugh.
- Imprint a Counterspell, or a Mana Leak – or a Memory Lapse – laugh.
- Imprint an Ancestral Recall, scream with laughter for hours and hours.
There are so many ways to abuse this card, it’s obscene.
For the beatdown guy, it achieves a number of things. Firstly, it can supply an endless stream of instant-speed burn – and in a deck like Burning Bridges, that is invaluable. A secondary bonus is the chance to imprint off-color instants in order to shore up weaknesses after boarding. Admittedly, this can be clunky, but bringing in Naturalize to handle Story Circles and the like may be pretty beneficial. And again, it’s another artifact to throw to a Shrapnel Blast.
Overall, this is a wonderful card. And it’s uncommon! I suggest if you pull a foil copy of this card, sell it immediately. It’ll only drop in value when the card is eventually banned.
Every beatdown player fears the board-sweeper. That one spell that wipes the slate clean.
Well, not any more, baby!
You don’t kill my guys? I win.
You do kill my guys? I win.
A card that puts at least five red Ichorids into play, even if only for a single turn, has got to be good. The only problem I can see is Starstorm, that instant-speed party-pooper. Making the deck as quick as possible in naturally important for this card to truly shine. Also, if artifact hate becomes de rigeur in the coming constructed formats, Lightning Coils may lessen in potency. Of course, the same can be said for all artifacts…
Spellbomb, Spellbomb, you’re my Spellbomb, and baby you can turn me on…
The Spellbombs are nice cards, reminding us of the mighty Seals from Nemesis. On the face of things, the Pyrite Spellbomb is almost exactly the same, hitting play on turn 1 and remaining around until needed. The card-drawing aspect of the card is negligible, however, unless you really need the burn. At a pinch, they can be thrown to a Shrapnel Blast for some extra damage, but this seems a little weak.
One thing I like about them is the fact they can be cast without a commitment to red mana. When playing RDW2002 in Houston, I’d often have fewer mountains in play then necessary to maximize my early drops. The colorless mana available through Rishadan Ports and even Wastelands will make these cards shine on like crazy diamonds.
- It can be sacrificed to a Shrapnel Blast
- It can be Trashed for Treasure.
- It can’t be fetched by a sac-land
- It can be destroyed easier than a mountain
- It doesn’t interact with Goblin Charbelcher
So what’s the verdict? To be honest, who cares? For fast red, it’ll either see play with Shrapnel Blast, or it won’t. I for one will be giving it a whirl. Of course, other uses in other deck-types will be found, especially with Affinity for Artifacts knocking about.
The Charbelcher? Hmmm…
An extremely fast red deck with a low land-count could utilize his obviously powerful ability. However, the possibility of simply pulling a mountain off the top when his ability kicks in may be too great. The jury is out on this one. As re-usable damage, he’s peachy. As effective damage? I’m unsure.
I can see him finding a home in a deck that utilizes deck-stacking techniques, such as Scroll Rack. How about as the kill in a creature-light deck with the new pseudo Oath of Druids/Gaea’s Blessing artifact, Proteus Staff? Make some guys with Raise the Alarm, speed through your deck looking for your only creature, then stack the cards that flew past so that there’s ten cards before you see a land mountain. Activate Charbelcher at an opportune time, win the game. Not the best idea ever, but it may be worth a pop.
Card advantage on a colorless stick, Oblivion Stone will definitely see play. While more of a threat than a boon to a beatdown player, it does offer a colorless answer to tricky enchantments, and is a cheap effective reset button if things get out of hand. The ability to protect certain permanents from destruction is nice, but too slow to mean anything to a mono-red player: after all, the weenie strategy means there’ll be a lot of permanents needing protection. Still, clearing the pitch of pesky blockers such as Silver Knights and insurmountable walls while leaving your team unmolested seems pretty cool. Get four of these cards quickly; they’ll be in demand for a number of decks.
The effectiveness of equipment on the Constructed stage is unknown. I for one think that some equipment cards will see play. For me, Equipment feels right. As an answer to the card disadvantage present with traditional creature enchantments, Equipment may be perfect.
Dead-Iron Sledge, I think, will make an impact for the beatdown player. It’s cheap enough to fit a fast curve, and it makes your guys into basilisks that don’t require damage to work their magic. Use your Silver Knight to block my equipped Goblin Sledder? Sure. Both guys die, and the equipment hangs around to do more parlor-tricks later in the game. I can see this making the sideboard of a few creature-based decks, especially the weenie variety.
As we can see, Red has been given a number of tools for the new Constructed formats. While few of the red cards themselves get my booty shaking, the artifact pool has enough strength in depth to please the most ardent firemage among us. Time will tell us if new deck designs can overthrow the strength of the speedy Goblin based beats, but I’m happy to see that quick red has a few new tricks up its well-worn sleeve.
Next time, the Mirrodin card that will give the most heartache to the noble red beatdown player, and a few Type 2 decklists based around what red does best: killing your opponent quickly.
Thanks for listening.