Dark Ascension Casual & Commander Review: Red

There is probably something wrong with me because I absolutely love playing mono-red in Commander. Sure, it’s probably the weakest color, but over the last few years a lot of new and unique spells have been added to the red mage’s arsenal. And then promptly taken by the nearest Izzet player.

Dark Ascension Commander & Casual Review
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor, Artifact & Land

Afflicted Deserter & Werewolf Ransacker

The first round of werewolves in Innistrad didn’t wow me, but it seems like R&D has figured out what to do with them – make people do everything in their power not to flip them. Recursive removal is a great thing and Commander is the one format where there is almost always an artifact worth destroying.

But the politics of this card are amazing. If someone doesn’t cast a spell, an artifact gets destroyed. If a player wants to screw over someone else, they just need to cast two spells and suddenly it’s like a game of Hot Potato only someone ends up getting bolted.

Alpha Brawl

This is expensive removal but the ability to essentially kill off an opponent’s entire army is worth 8 mana. Be prepared to do some math though since this can quickly end poorly since the target deals his damage first – thus killing off the weaker ones.  Scratch that, from the Official FAQ:

The two parts of Alpha Brawl’s effect happen sequentially: first the targeted creature deals damage, then the other creatures deal damage. State-based actions aren’t checked in the middle, so creatures that are dealt lethal damage by the targeted creature will still deal damage.

The only real issue is this is a dead card against a single creature, but that doesn’t stop me from loving it.

Blood Feud

Your initial reaction is probably “Why does Prey Upon cost six now?” but there is a minor difference – this card just causes any two target creatures to fight each other! Six mana seems like a great deal to kill two creatures on the board – especially in red.

Burning Oil

For the Boros battlemage looking for additional burn spells, they could do worse. This isn’t the best spell in the world, but the ability to use it twice really helps increase its value. If you need more target removal, this will do in a pinch but both white and red have better options.

Curse of Bloodletting

I love Furnace of Rath, but it is often a double-edged sword. Curse of Bloodletting allows you to control it better, but only against a single opponent. It is worth noting though that this will double all damage dealt to that player – not just damage you and your spells deal. If someone is getting out of hand, this is a fine way to reel them back in and remind them that now it only takes half as much time to die from Commander damage.

Erdwal Ripper

So it’s a slightly more powerful, slightly more expensive version of Slith Firewalker? With enough proliferating, maybe this can work but a 3-drop that dies to pretty much any creature isn’t too exciting.

Faithless Looting

I love this card. Filtering in red may be exactly what Red needs to escalate its power. The ability to sift through your deck faster is a great touch – especially in a set where stuff in your graveyard matters. For casual-60 players, this is exactly what a combo-deck with red in it will need.

Fires of Undeath

Burn has been horribly weakened in the Innistrad block so far. First Geistflame and now this? I’m not paying 3 mana for a Shock. Sure, in limited I’ll play this but in an eternal format? Don’t bother.

Flayer of the Hatebound

I want to like this card. Sure, he’s a great variant of Flametongue Kavu and is just begging to team up with Cauldron of Souls (and now I just gave Bruce an idea…) but the fact that he doesn’t do anything the first time he comes into play is just boring. He has his use and could be great in a non-conventional Red-Black reanimator deck, but it’s going to take a lot of work.

Fling

A fine staple that hasn’t changed much since Stronghold, besides getting worse.

Forge Devil

A more aggressive version of Sparkmage Apprentice (that can’t hit players), Forge Devil would be amazing except his ability isn’t a may. You have to do it, so have fun nuking your own guy.

Heckling Fiends

This is a fascinating two-drop. Most of the “siren” creatures involve tapping, so being able to force multiple creatures to attack (preferably into horribly one-sided slaughters) is a unique way to go about it. I don’t see this getting maindecked in many decks, but if you’re just looking to really mess up someone’s play – Heckling Fiends will do just fine.

Hellrider

If you’re using an aggressive strategy (like Goblins), this guy will quickly end games. Don’t underestimate the ability to add in an extra 5 damage each combat. And is his mount wearing Swiftfoot Boots?

Hinterland Hermit & Hinterland Scourge

Another werewolf that doesn’t wow me. A 3/2 for 2 sometimes is okay but nothing crazy – especially since cards like Watchwolf exist.

Increasing Vengeance

Half the fun of Fork and Reverberate is letting you copy someone else’s spell. Swindling them with a Bribery of your own (and getting first pick) is a lovely trick for a red mage. Sadly, Increasing Vengeance doesn’t allow you to do that. But still, the ability to Fork your spell then Flashback to do it two more times makes me really like this spell. Have fun with your triple Earthquake!

Markov Blademaster

Another three-drop red vampire in this set? Double strike isn’t to be underestimated. I love cards that can change mid combat on their own, so this is pretty decent. She’s initially quite fragile but in a Vampire deck (maybe with Olivia commanding), she’ll fit right in.

Markov Warlord

Eh, a neat combat trick in limited but in casual, I don’t see this doing much.

Mondronen Shaman & Tovolar’s Magehunter

This is another werewolf I can get behind. The damned if you do, damned if you don’t attitude is amazing. I love cards like Impatience that really punish people for not doing anything, but the idea that an opponent has to take 4 damage just to revert this card back to her human self? That’s absolutely amazing.

Moonveil Dragon

A Shivan Dragon combined with a much better version of Firebreathing? Yeah, you could do a lot worse. This is a beautiful finisher in an aggressive red Commander deck. It’s big, it flies and it kills people.

Nearheath Stalker

A Lighting Elemental without haste and with undying? Not that exciting.

Pyreheart Wolf

One of my favorite things about Commander is trying to find cards that do multiple things, and Pyreheart Wolf does just that. Providing you with Goblin War Drums and being a 1/1 that needs to be killed twice makes me think many aggressive red decks will want to run this wolf.

Russet Wolves

Just how big are the animals of Innistrad?

Scorched the Fields

Wait… so only humans can burn? This doesn’t make any sense. Run Devastate instead.

Shattered Perception

In a pinch, this can be a fantastic way to refill your hand. As someone who loves Madness spells, I could see this quickly finding a home in a very specific deck. But any red card draw is better than no red card draw.

Talons of Falkenrath

I am not paying 2RR to give a creature +2/+0.

Torch Fiend

An interesting take on Shatter by putting it on a stick, but I would prefer Shattering Pulse.

Wrack with Madness

It is absurd how many cards have the same power and toughness, and this kills them with ease! This can also take out almost 300 legendary creatures! Red doesn’t often get targeted, non-damage removal but boy is this great. Even better is that Wrack with Madness doesn’t deal the damage, the creature deals it.

Top 5 Casual & Commander Red Cards in Dark Ascension

5. Wrack with Madness
4. Blood Feud
3. Mondronen Shaman & Tovolar’s Magehunter
2. Faithless Looting
1. Afflicted Deserter & Werewolf Ransacker

Dark Ascension Commander & Casual Review
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor, Artifact & Land