We are fresh out of guilds, which means that there are only two colors left… along with some leftovers like, say, the new split cards. They are all very exciting, and we have the lands and artifacts too. Today is Red, and those split cards, and the last article will be Blue, the lands, the artifacts, and a nice little wrap-up with the top 10 cards or Dissension.
Off we go.
Best Use: Hellbent beats.
Cards like this are a dime and a dozen. We have had Lightning Blast, Solar Blast, and many more. Sometimes they pop up in Constructed, but most of the time they are reserved for Limited, as they are great removal spells in that format. Same with this, except that to me it seems like Hellbent could actually use a finisher like this in Constructed, acting like a cheap Lava Axe with the option of killing a guy here or there. Then again, four Chars might be more then enough. In Limited there is no question… this is one of the best removal spells in the set.
Best Use: Replacing Blaze in all decks that play it now.
This card is strictly better then Blaze in all ways, so there’s no question about its playability, as it’s clearly strong. It might even be a Five Star Card, since the “uncounterable, unpreventable” clause makes it incredibly good against any control deck, and a great all-round card for other matchups. The only thing keeping it down is that it does cost a lot of mana, and Shining Shoal is still around which might make this a painful experience. In Limited, X spells have always been first picks all the way, and this is no exception. No matter what color you are or what’s in your deck, pick this and splash it… it’s worth it.
Best Use: It’s an FTK when you hold it up against the mirror.
Whatever Flametongue Kavu does, this card does the exact opposite. The cost the same, but instead of a 4/2 you get a 2/4; instead of killing a guy when he comes into play, this guy gets killed when another one enters the scene. The fact that you cannot control anything make it that while FTK is a very good Constructed card, this is a bad one. In Limited there is also no control over what this will kill, which means that most of the time it will just wack a Saproling or the worst card in your opponent’s deck. You cannot follow this guy up with any pressure yourself, making it a removal spell, but a very bad one. Don’t play this.
Best Use: The Enchantment deck.
A great creature for Limited, since there are so many good enchantments in the format. Just think of putting a Flight or Fancy on this guy, or a Strands of Undeath… Heck, any Magemark will make this guy a monster, without making your deck much worse. By itself the card is fine as well: a Grey Ogre is never horrible, and all you need is an enchantment or three to make this a high pick. I know Raphael Levy will love this guy. In Constructed, the enchantment deck is not actually valid, and more often than not Putrefy (or similar) will two-for-one you. Maybe if Rancor ever finds a deck again then this guy will join him… but then again, Rancor makes every creature good.
Best Use: Lyzolda proxy.
I don’t get this card. With a one-toughness creature, the last thing you need to worry about is it getting blocked by flying creatures, as it will trade with even the tiniest of Saprolings with great ease. The only use I could see is beating Meloku with it, but even then it is not a fair race at all. In Limited, there is a huge amount of Saprolings around, and this guy will hardly ever have evasion, but it still trades with bigger guys – like 3/3’s – making it only slightly worse than Centaur Safeguard.
Best Use: Duress Protection.
You get one-shot Hellbent effect from this card, as well as protection from your opponents discard spells. That is not too bad, yet also not very exciting, as Red is not the color that fears the dreaded Duress. As soon as you cast this card you open yourself up to all kinds of other spells; clearly you have nothing left, so they can do whatever they want. In Limited you also get the Hellbent effect, as well as a cheap cantrip, making it okay but never great. A passable trick in the right deck, but nothing special.
Best Use: Garbage Bin all the way.
Not only is this a one-drop with a disability – it has to attack each turn – but it also needs you to drop a Swamp as your second land to get through… and even if it does come through every turn, it’s only one damage. It could be nice if you have 3 pingers untapped when you play him, but when that happens, trust me… you are probably winning already.
Best Use: Draco decks.
The good thing about cards like this – Stormbind, for example – is that you can turn excess lands into burn spells, using them to finish off your opponent or his guys. This is not a permanent, nor can it do anything with lands, nor can it kill off players. It is a very bad Earthquake effect that most of the time requires three cards or more out of your hand. If it wasn’t random at least you would have something that was useful as a discard engine.
Best Use: Board it against Caryatid.
There are decks out there that use Carven Caryatid as a sideboard option against beatdown decks, and against those, this will be an awesome one-up, killing the wall and getting a decent guy in play. In Limited, there are certain people that I know hate this guy, since there are so many great Defenders and they love drafting that deck. Neil Reeves, amongst others, fears this card like no other in Prague, meaning it will always make your deck. By itself it is never bad, making this card a nice little package.
A cool trick in a format where there’s a bunch of good targets, like Streetbreaker Wurm, Golgari Rotwurm, or even Feral Animist. Of course, you need to have a bunch of those in your deck, but then it can hit your opponent for a lot or kill a bunch of blockers. With all the multicolored guys in your opponent’s deck, it also means you can easily cycle this, giving you a nice little trick that is just short of Wildsize but still very good. In Constructed, there are better things to do with your time and your mana, since this is a very limited trick in limited situations. Of course, in some sort of combo it can still deal a huge amount of damage, but that only happens in a perfect world.
Best Use: Big Red.
The new Dragon is here, and it is a very playable one. In mono-Red this guy is a monster, able to finish off your opponent in one hit (given that you have set it up well). I am not sure if this will replace cards like Fledgling Dragon, because three toughness is slightly vulnerable, but in other formats where you don’t have the luxury of a bigger option, this guy will dominate. Obviously this guy is also insane in Limited, but in this multicolor block it will be hard work getting all the Red mana together to do all the cool tricks. This means it will never be as good as it looks. Still very good though, and better than almost any creature.
Best Use: Gold galore decks.
The worst ability of all the Eidolons, meaning that it will never ever be a “great” card, nor will it be played in Constructed. In Limited you get a 2/2 that you can keep getting back, but seriously, you don’t want to be playing this guy.
Best Use: You all know that already.
This is a reprint of a much-played card, so I am going to not waste a lot of time on this. Better than Shock in most cases, this is just a premier burn spell in Constructed. In Limited you will see that there are not that many targets around to kill these days, as the format has more and more fatties, and the only guys you really want to kill are Guildmages and such. You still really want to kill those though, so pick it and play it. It’s just not as good as Cackling Flames.
Best Use: Rakdos Beats.
This is a very efficient guy – as are all the creatures in this cycle – and this one is fine in Constructed. Nezumi Cutthroat was played, and this is just straight better in RB, never mind that it is a much better topdeck (giving it some extra gravy). In Limited, Fear is insane, and the X effect might also turn out to be relevant if you have another Evasion creature, Fireballing your opponent out.
Best Use: Big Red.
A Dragon this is not, and there are so many better creatures out there that I would be embarrassed to find out this is ever the best option. Possibilities in a combo deck maybe, but other than that, no. In Limited it is a giant fatty, like any other, and its effect might help you win the game, but most of the time it will not really be relevant. Take it and play it, but don’t think this is a bomb because you will be disappointed.
Best Use: Limited Bomb.
This is a prime example of a Limited bomb that will not do enough, or is too expensive, for Constructed play. In Limited, reusable creature kill at the cost of a card is amazing, and this guy will dominate games by itself. In Constructed, it is a 2/2 for four with a passable ability, but it will often die without doing anything except costing a ton of mana.
Best Use: Use it to make little paper airplanes.
Enchant Creature Auras that boost guys are usually not very good, for the obvious reasons, but this is even worse that usual because it doesn’t even boost the toughness. The enchanted creature will still trade with the same creatures on attack, meaning that it will now be a two-for-one instead of a one-for-one. Rancor showed how this could be done correctly, but this card doesn’t even come close.
Best Use: No comment.
No, really… no comment.
Best Use: Sideboard against decks with evasion.
By itself, the card doesn’t do anything. Sure, you can make them attack… but that is what they want to do anyway. The only use for this would see you tap out your opponent to force through a spell. Four mana seems a little expensive for that purpose, and it will never be good enough. In Limited, this doesn’t stop your opponent from crushing you if he already is doing just that, meaning it is far too narrow most of the time. I could see boarding it in against decks with a lot of evasion if I can’t beat that, because that will put you on equal footing an able to race easier, but then again, that might turn out to be horrible too. Try and avoid.
Best Use: Sideboard.
Clearly a sideboard card versus decks like Zoo, where for one mana you can kill Watchwolves and the like. Not very exciting other than that, since all it does is kill creatures. In Limited, you can board it in if your opponent has a tapper, pinger, or something similar that you want to kill, as most games he will have a bounce land in play. Not much better than Riot Spikes, though.
Best Use: To stop the wobbling of your desk.
Red is pretty disappointing, with not a lot going for it besides a new X spell and some removal. The Dragon is nice and all, but still. The Split cards are next, and that is where the real excitement can be found:
Constructed: 1 // 3
Limited: 1 // 2
Best Use: Anti Control card.
The only good half of this card is Determined, allowing you to force through key spells versus control decks. Many spells of this type have been known and played throughout history, and this will probably see some sideboard space as well. Horrible in Sealed, since the Bound part is actually a very bad Regrowth, unless you have a Nephilim to sacrifice.
Constructed: 2 // 3
Limited: 2 // 3
Best Use: Engineered Explosives look-a-like.
The casting cost of the good half of this spell is exactly the same as playing an Engineered Explosives and activating it, with the only downside being that you can only play it in B/G decks. This is fine in both Constructed and Limited, but will often be not quite what you need if they curve out with any success. The other side is just okay in a pinch, but on its own it would never be played. At five mana you can play your own good creature instead. Of course, it can function as a 5th or 9th reanimation spell.
Constructed: 3 // 3
Limited: 2 // 1
The first half is not much worse than Disenchant, so it has a use right there in most formats. Board it in Limited, possibly use it maindeck in Constructed. The second half seems only viable in Vintage, where it stops one of the most used win conditions – Tinker for Colossus – as well as some Oath activations. That means it has a place in that format, at least in some sideboards, maybe.
Constructed: 4 // 3
Limited: 4 // 3
Best Use: Aggro RB without Dark Confidants.
This card would be an auto addition to any Red/Black deck… if it wasn’t for the fact that those decks all tend to run Dark Confidant. You really don’t want to risk taking eight damage from this. Other than that, Hit is very good, so if you don’t have Bob, play this. The Run part is mostly for Limited, where it will be an Overrun most of the time, clearing the board and dealing a bunch of damage if you have more guys than your opponent.
Constructed: 3 // 3
Limited: 1 // 4
Best Use: Extra counter in control mirrors.
No matter what happens, in a counter battle this card will always counter a counterspell, either by countering it outright or redirecting the counter to Odds itself. Besides that it doesn’t seem very exciting to target anything other that burn spells, Compulsive Research, or Early Harvest, where redirecting them is as good as countering them. The other ability definitely shines in Limited, where a double Second Thoughts is just insane, and can also be very good in Constructed. A control deck that can cast both halves will probably be very happy to play this card.
Constructed: 3 // 3
Limited: 4 // 2
Best Use: Poor man’s Putrefy.
In most decks you would rather have a Putrefy, as the creatures you will want to kill aren’t always multicolored, but in a format where Burning-Tree Shamans, Watchwolves, and Ghost Councils are everywhere, this card could still be fine. Expect to board this most of the time as a super Tranquillity with a plus, and not to run this maindeck. In Limited, every deck has some multicolored creatures etc, so this will simply be a removal spell, and a decent one at that, while still having the added benefit of being slightly more versatile. A high pick there.
Constructed: 2 // 4
Limited: 1 // 4
Best Use: Sticking it on a Isochron Scepter.
The first thing I though of when I heard of this… how insane this card would be on a Scepter. Getting any amount of three cards or 3/1’s – for two mana – is insane, and breaks the card like it is definitely not intended. On its own, the card is still fine in Limited, offering good instant card advantage no matter what your opponent chooses. The other half is not so great, since shuffling the cards in your deck is no guarantee that you will draw them… but if you have some kind of Tutor effect, or expect the game to go long, getting four sideboard cards can never be bad. In Limited, you play all your good cards maindeck, and you should never play Research.
Constructed: 3 // 4
Limited: 4 // 4
Best Use: RB decks everywhere.
Despite not being Hymn, this card is as close as we’re ever going to get. You cannot manascrew your opponent like the old stand-by could, but you can wait until he misses a land drop and yank two spells from his hand. Seems fine to me in any format, and the random effect makes it quite the kick in the face… In Limited, the other half really shines, being a great tempo play that will also Regrow one of your creatures. It’s even good in Constructed, although not very exciting.
Constructed: 3 // 4
Limited: 3 // 3
Best Use: the Dovescape deck.
In Dovescape you get exactly what you need: a Tutor and an X spell, if you finally have the ‘Scape in play. Other than that, a Tutor is never bad if your deck revolves around multicolor spells, and the X tokens are never efficient… but never bad. In limited, the Tutor is as good as your multicolor spells, although the X spell is always good.
Constructed: 1 // 3
Limited: 2 // 2
Best Use: Counterspell in certain matchups.
The first effect is only good if you are entering combat, and that is not what a deck playing this card will often do, so it shouldn’t even be counted. The second part is a passable counterspell, although it is fairly narrow, and it’ll never be good enough to be played maindeck. Two-mana counters are never to be overlooked though, and from the sideboard this can turn out to be very potent. In Limited, neither of the two halves are very special, and I don’t think this card should ever be maindecked in that format.
As I said, the multicolor cards are an exciting bunch, each offering whole lot in power and versatility. Of course, with each of these cards the question is if there will be a deck able to run them to their full potential… but with all the duals in the format, it looks like, at least in Block and Standard, this will not be a big problem.