Magic Origins Limited Review: Red

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Posted July 9, 2015 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Nerdy Bits

Before this review begins, I thought I would break down my scoring system:

10: An absolute bomb, you will always pick this card, even if it’s pack three and you aren’t in its colors. In Sealed, you will splash this card no matter what.

9.0-9.9: While still a bomb, you may not necessarily splash this card if you can’t support it.

8.0-8.9: While maybe not a bomb, these cards are still first pickable, either for being an exceptional creature or for being prime removal.

7.0-7.9: Early pick creatures and playable removal, as well as other highly playable non creature spells.

6.0-6.9: Playable cards that you won’t be excited about playing.

5.0-5.9: These are the cards that you’ll be forced to play, but may be actively unhappy about playing them.

4.0-4.9: Generally cards designed specifically for Constructed that simply don’t gel in Limited, ie specific hate cards. Good only in the sideboard.

3.0-3.9: If you’re playing this, something went wrong along the way.

2.0-2.9: These are the dregs of the pack, that go as late at as the basic lands – sometimes later.

1.0-1.9: Set these cards on fire. They’re worthless to you, and yes, this is true even in EDH.

 

Mythic Rares

Avaricious Dragon

Beating down with a 4/4 flier for four sounds pretty great. Drawing an additional card each turn also sounds pretty great. In Limited, having to discard your entire hand each turn is a serious bummer. This is probably going to be worth playing, especially if you have a really aggressive curve, but otherwise it isn’t great.

Score: 7.0

Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh//Chandra Roaring Flame

A 2/2 pinger for three that you can untap is good enough on its own. Combine that with three amazing loyalty abilities, and you’ve got a rock solid bomb on your hands. It’s not the easiest Planeswalker to flip, but once you do, you’re probably in a position where victory is somewhat inevitable. She’s a great bomb – excellent when you’re ahead, puts you ahead in a board spell, and is a great first step in terms of digging yourself out of a hole. This card should easily draw you into Red, even in spite of the double red and what pack/pick you’re on.

Score: 9.0

Rares

Abbot of Keral Keep

You never, ever want to play Abbot of Keral Keep on turn two. Normally, you would want to get a 2/1 with Prowess for two out as soon as possible, but that would destroy the value you get by casting this card. Exiling cards and being able to play them is Red’s form of pseudo-card advantage, and it’s always pretty solid, if you can play the card. The problem is, a 2/1 with Prowess will get outclassed pretty quickly if you play it on turn five or later, though it’s kind fo necessary. It’s a bit strange, but I guess the card is fine.

Score: 6.7

Chandra’s Ignition

Chandra’s Ignition is basically a Fall of the Hammer that boardwipes. When you cast this, it’s generally going to be on your best creature, and in most scenarios will kill most things, while also bashing your opponent’s face. This more than justifies its fairly steep mana cost, but unfortunately, it does require a decent sized creature on board. The risk is relatively high, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prioritize this.

Score: 8.3

Embermaw Hellion

Embermaw Hellion functionally gives all your Red creatures +1/+0, and makes all your burn spells a little bit better. It also happens to be a 4/5 Trampler for five, which is actually quite close to being on curve. You do need to be majority Red for this card to do real work, but if you get it early enough then you should be good. Even early on in pack two you may be able to get a deck built around it.

Score: 8.0

Exquisite Firecraft

Three mana for four damage is generally not the rate you’re looking for, especially with a largely irrelevant upside. Fortunately, this card does offer the versatility of hitting both creatures and players. This means that it works really well as removal, but can also go right at the opponent’s face if that becomes necessary to your game plan.

Score: 8.5

Flameshadow Conjuring

This is probably not the type of card you really want in Limited. You could get some value off of it, but spending four mana on something that may not have high returns is not great, especially in Red. Turn four is when you want to be curving out into a large creature, and even when you copy your bomb, it’s only around for one turn. It is pretty good if you’re ahead, but then you were probably going to win anyways, so this becomes more of a win-more card than anything else.

Score: 3.9

Goblin Piledriver

Since Goblins seem to be a Limited subtheme in Red, and Goblin Piledriver is one of the driving cards here. There are quite a few other goblins in the set, and most of them are actually playable. It’s likely you’ll be playing them in red decks anyways, Goblin Piledriver just rewards you for playing them. The Pro-Blue part of this card will not always be relevant, but there are probably a significant number of situations when it is, so it’s not useless.

Score: 7.4

Molten Vortex

This definitely seems like a card built for Constructed. Fortunately, it’s not bad in Limited either. The card does work when you’re flooded, though you’re unlikely to get more than one of them which is a bummer. It’s also not good at all if you’re not getting flooded, because discarding lands you may need is never a good idea.

Score: 6.0

Pia and Kiran Nalaar

There seem to be several cards in Blue and Red that are 2/2’s for four but making up for their stats by bringing along a couple of 1/1 flying Thopters. Plus, they have an activated ability that makes use of those tokens, or other artifacts. In this case, they are used as expendable sources of damage. This ability is great, as it can be used as removal, or it can go straight to the face. The flexibility it offers is always nice, and the fact that you can throw away any Artifact and get some value out of it is great. In the artifact deck, this is exactly the card you’re hoping to open.

Score: 7.8

Scab-Clan Berserker

This card seems like a Constructed card built for aggro decks to fight control, but Scab-Clan Berserker is not bad in draft either. A 2/2 with Haste and Renown is likely to be able to get Renowned, and once it becomes a 3/3 it gets a bit better. You’ll also be able to generate value off of it, inevitably. It does harm you as well, but if your deck is aggressive enough you’ll be fine.

Score: 7.2

Uncommons

Acolyte of the Inferno

The Acolyte’s triggered ability synergizes really well with Renown. Opponents will generally want to prevent it from becoming a 4/2, but they’re likely to lose their creatures in doing so. If they want to kill this guy, they’ll need to put at least three power in front of it, and even then it’s just a trade. This is one of the better Red uncommons.

Score: 7.5

Call of the Full Moon

Call of the Full Moon is a nice call back to the werewolves of Innistrad, but the downside is just terrible. If you hit this early, you’ll have a massive turn two threat with Trample. That early (or even into the second, third, and fourth turns) it will be really hard for opponents to be casting two spells in a single turn, and they’ll be facing down a massive trampler.

Score: 7.5

Enthralling Victor

Enthralling Victory can get you some great value. It will either do the equivalent of burning your opponent for two or removing one of their creatures. Obviously if they don’t have any targets this guy just isn’t good, but that’s worst case scenario, and is rarely going to be the case if you hit this guy on curve or slightly afterwards.

Score: 6.3

Fiery Conclusion

With Fiery Conclusion, you’re basically 2-for-1’ing yourself. Sure, Red decks are notorious for their inability to deal with large threats, so it may very well be worth it. And if you have black in your deck, the possibility of having some synergies does exist, so this card is certainly not the worst. Red decks will probably pick it fairly highly, especially if they have expendable aggressive creatures that don’t scale well to the late game.

Score: 6.0

Ghirapur Aether Grid

Pinging is a powerful ability, and there are quite a few ways to get Artifacts to tap in Origins. Unlike a lot of Enchantments with activated or triggered abilities, the Aether Grid can be activated as soon as it comes down, which is definitely a mark in its favor. This is a card that a lot of Blue Red decks will take fairly highly.

Score: 7.0

Goblin Glory Chaser

If this guy had Haste, he would be super powerful, even Constructed playable. Without Haste, he just doesn’t seem that good. On the play, opponents will just play an expendable 1/1 of their own and trade off with it. On the draw, they’ll just eat it with a 2/2. This guy will just never become a 2/2 with Menace unless your opponent fails to have a one drop, which may be the case. Still, this guy has to come down on turn 1, since 1/1’s tend to scale really poorly.

Score: 5.0

Magmatic Insight

This is the type of draw spell that Limited decks love to have. It helps get rid of excess lands, and helps to restock your hand with action for a really low cost. This is actually a fairly high pick for most red decks, especially if they’re aiming to be aggressive. Even if they’re going for a more midrange strategy, this card will likely still make the cut.

Score: 6.7

Ravaging Blaze

Ravaging Blaze is somewhat reminiscent of Clan Defiance, which was the best Limited card out of Gatecrash. Spell Mastery is really easy for a red deck to attain, especially since this is a card you won’t cast until later in the game. It scales well, and can act as removal for most, if not all, of your opponent’s threats, while taking a significant chunk out of their life total. This may very well be in contention for the set’s best uncommon.

Score: 8.3

Seismic Elemental

In some match ups, Seismic Elemental is the perfect setup for an alpha strike. In others, it’s a vanilla 4/4 for five. Neither is a bad scenario, though if you can, this may be a card better suited to the sideboard that you bring in, especially against blue white decks that take to the skies and hammer on your life total.

Score: 5.9

Skyraker Giant

Against some of the powerful fliers in this set, you’ll be glad to have a 4/3 with Reach. However, like Seismic Elemental, it’s a card you should probably try to keep in your sideboard and bring in when you need to hate on blue white fliers.

Score: 5.9

Thopter Engineer

A 1/3 for three that comes along with a 1/1 with flying and haste seems like a good deal, especially since artifacts seem pretty big in this Limited environment. This card has massive upside, and even in a red deck without the Artifact theme, it may very well be worth tossing in.

Score: 6.2

Commons

Act of Treason

Act of Treason is about as good as it always is, which is just fine. It’s a decently high pick, and will put in a lot of work if you position it correctly in the game. Most of the time it’s probably better out of the sideboard than having it on the starting team, but you’ll bring it in on most occasions and be pretty happy knowing it’s in your deck.

Score: 6.5

Akroan Sergeant

Akroan Sergeant is another Red card with Renown that makes combat hell for opponents. It’s had to trade with or eat it, especially if it lands on curve and your opponent has stumbled a little bit. At the same time, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to face down a 3/3 First Striker, so the desire to block it will be there. It’s a nice card to have around, though it’s probably not a very high pick.

Score: 6.3

Bellows Lizard

Bellows Lizard is a 1/1 for one, so we’re already off to a bad start. Firebreathing means it does scale better, but you’re not leaving up activation mana for a few turns, since curving out should be a higher priority than pumping this guy. This is not a card you want to be caught running.

Score: 4.5

Boggart Brute

Early in the game, most opponents probably won’t want to double block a 3/2, so this guy is likely to connect a few times, or 2-for-1 your opponent. Even if it’s just a 1-for-1 trade, they had to go down a blocker, and that’s never fun. This is a common to watch out for if you’re in Red.

Score: 7.0

Chandra’s Fury

Chandra’s Fury is pretty good in Red decks, in the same way that Lava Axe is typically pretty good in Red decks. You want one or two to knock your opponent into striking distance, and this comes with the added bonus of pinging your opponent’s creatures, which could be a nice way to finish off some larger creatures after combat.

Score: 6.7

Cobblebrute

Cobblebrute’s just as good now as it was back in RtR. You’ll play it and not be unhappy about it, getting some damage in until eventually trading up. There’s not a whole lot of downside to this guy.

Score: 6.0

Demolish

This is a pure sideboard card. It actually has some application if someone drafted Artifacts at your table, but four mana is still a bit steep.

Score: 5.5

Dragon Fodder

Two 1/1’s for two mana is probably slightly better than the average bear. It’s a pretty decent aggressive card, though it’s probably not quite as good in Limited as Constructed.

Score: 7.5

Fiery Impulse

Shock is a solid Limited card, largely due to its versatility. Fiery Impulse lacks that versatility, but it has a pretty nice upside as a removal spell. I don’t think it’s a high pick, but it’s definitely a live pick.

Score: 6.9

Firefiend Elemental

A 3/2 with Haste for four mana isn’t a bad deal. Slap Prowess on there, and you’ve got yourself a card. You may actually want to save this card until you can get a Prowess trigger off of it, meaning that you can attack when it comes down while bluffing/actually having any Instant to get this guy through combat if necessary.

Score: 7.8

Girapour Gearcrafter

This is pretty much Standard fare for the Artifact deck. A decent creature that brings along a flying friend that can be used in multiple ways is no different than multiple other blue and red creatures. The Gearcrafter isn’t the best of them, but it’s one of the few at common, so in that archetype you’ll be running them.

Infectious Bloodlust

If you want to be aggressive with this card (which it encourages) you’re probably not waiting to cast it, meaning the Haste clause is useless. Having multiples gives you marginal upside, but +2/+1 for two mana is not actually that great.

Score: 5.7

Lightning Javelin

Four mana for three damage is kind of depressing, even with Scry and versatility. You don’t want to be paying that much mana for removal at Sorcery speed, but in this set, you may very well have to if you don’t pick up one of the better Rare or Uncommon Red removal spells.

Score: 5.5

Mage Ring Bully

A bear with Renown that has to attack isn’t the worst card ever. It’s probably going to get blocked, but even then it’s likely to trade so you can’t be too unhappy. Plus, if it becomes a 3/3, you really got a bargain. 3/3’s actually fare pretty well even into the late game, so having one that you only paid two for is pretty nice.

Score: 5.9

Prickleboar

Defensively, this guy is absolute garbage. Offensively, it’s a completely different story. 5/3 First strikers for five aren’t a great deal, but it’s not a bad one either. You can play this if you would like to, and be pretty happy with it.

Score: 6.5

Smash to Smithereens

This is easily one of the best Artifact hate cards in Constructed, and that includes Modern. Having it in this Limited environment is pretty sweet, as you may want to destroy Artifacts while bolting your opponent. You’re getting a lot for your mana with this card, and despite being a sideboard card, it is worthwhile to have around.

Score: 6.9

Subterrenean Scout

In the first couple of terms, this guy will just make any creature unblockable. It fits perfectly in an aggressive deck, so this is a card you may want to have if you’re in Red.

Score: 6.2

Titan’s Strength

This combat trick was ridiculous in Theros Limited, and it’s probably still ridiculous in Origins Limited. It allows your smallest guys to trade up and get marginal benefit at the same time. This is just an all around stellar good, and probably a fairly high pick in draft.

Score: 7.8

Volcanic Rambler

6/4’s for six are not exactly bad deals, especially with the ability to ping repeatedly. This isn’t the best creature, but it’s a fine top end to have in a Red deck. It’s not a high priority pick by any stretch of the imagination, but once you’re getting into late pack two and pack three it’s worth picking up.

Score: 6.0


About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.