I’m a weird Commander player. I know that because I keep tweaking my mono-red Jaya Ballard deck whenever a new set comes out in hopes that maybe some day it will actually work (though pulling off her Inferno when equipping a Loxodon Warhammer and wearing a Darksteel Plate was awesome), so when looking at red cards I take it way too personally.
Combining Lava Axe with a one-sided Tremor doesn’t really wow me. Or maybe I’ve realized how few 1/1s get played at my table. I don’t every expect to play this card, but I do think I’ll keep it in mind if tokens ever become a problem again.
Red Overrun makes Cleaver Riot an interesting card, but the sorcery speed makes it much less fun (and impossible to use defensively). Where I am most interested in this card is an awkward red infect deck that probably shouldn’t exist but I don’t even care. I want to make it.
Here is a list of cards that do the same thing but better.
It’s Sedge Troll’s pet! A 3/2 with regeneration for only two mana? That’s a great deal (especially for those weird lizard tribal decks). While the regeneration cost is high, I love that this guy can come down early and be offensive or come down late and hold the ground.
I love the idea of this card (and love him in DotP13), but this card is too fragile and too mana intensive for any multiplayer deck.
Public service announcement: this card is a 4/2 – in DotP13 it is a 4/1! I love phoenixes in red as a unique way to generate card advantage. They’re a pain to kill, they’re excellent fodder for spellshapers and they evasive creatures! Firewing Phoenix doesn’t wow me as much as some thanks to the high recursion cost, but I love that it can come back at any time.
Flames of the Firebrand
If you’ve been in need of a second Arc Lightning for your commander deck, here you go.
Goblin Battle Jester
This is complicated. For the last 15 years, my online handle has been jestergoblin. So actually getting a goblin jester in Magic is so many different flavors of awesomesauce. That said, this card kind of sucks. If I’m paying 4 mana for a goblin, it better win me the game that turn…
Krenko, Mob Boss
For basically the same price as Goblin Battle Jester, you can have this instead! Krenko is a terrifying commander because he deals with doubling goblins. Thanks to an abundance of goblin lords, that is so good. For goblin Commanders, he’s now vying against Ib Halfheart and both Worts but the potential of this guy is huge. But what I really like is how little of him is “build around me.”
Worst case, this card reads “Make one goblin… then two goblins, then four goblins…” Sign me up!
You can now run two Dragon Fodders in Commander.
The newest take on Earthquake, Magmaquake is a fascinating card. It really comes down to how many planeswalkers are running around your table, but more importantly this is X damage to each non-flier at instant speed! Fault Line is a great card and I expect Magmaquake to be up there for mass red removal, but it really depends on your playgroup.
I don’t know when Red got this slice of the color pie, but good lord! Being able to steal your opponent’s best instant or sorcery for only 5 mana is amazing – especially in Commander! Now your opponent’s best spell becomes yours. There is the risk of now getting anything good, but my experience has been if the player has black, blue or white, then they have a spell worth stealing. I expect this to be an auto-include in most red Commander decks from now on.
Solid in limited, but probably won’t see much play outside of some Ogre theme deck.
As Wizards continues to tweak Red’s slice of the looting color pie, Rummaging Goblin is a fascinating example of how blue and red differ from a flavor standpoint. For goblin players looking for some mid to late game support, the ability to pitch dead lands or tiny goblins in hopes of drawing something useful, he’s amazing. The higher mana cost concerns me, especially when Merfolk Looter is only 1U, but this is definitely a card I’m eager to play around with – especially when madness is involved.
I love that Smaug finally got his own Magic card. I view this card along similar lines as Propaganda and Ghostly Prison because it does such a wonderful job disincentivizing people attacking you. As a one drop, this is just begging to be broken, whether that means cascading into it or tossing them down on turn one before proliferating away into a giant beast that rules the sky.
Speaking of beasts ruling the sky, Thundermaw Hellkite certainly takes the cake! A 5/5 flier with haste for only five is a bargain, but the fact that this dragon then proceeds to stun the entire sky makes it both a flavor home and mechanical homerun! It’s been ages since we actually got a dragon worth playing outside of Kaalia. This card utterly destroys combat math in all of its forms and I love it, it’s just a shame all the Standard players will be loving it too.
A continuation of Red’s looting, Wild Guess is a dangerous card. I really dislike that discarding the card is an additional cost, so countering it makes it awful. I much prefer Dangerous Wager (which is also much easier to cast). An interesting card certain, but Wild Guess is too much risk for too little reward.
My favorite way to play Super Smash Bros is with a lot of Bob-ombs, so it should come as no surprise that I really love when sudden death round start raining them – and that is exactly what this feels like. It’s over the top, ungodly expensive and hilariously awkward. Worldfire feels like what Obliterate used to. Will this get banned in Commander? I doubt it. But I really want to see it resolve just once.
In the realm of reprints, Chandra, the Firebrand returns for her encore and I still adore the ability to double your next spell. Fervor is nice, but nothing exciting. Hamletback Goliath is a great piece of removal bait, while Mark of Mutiny makes theft a little more interesting. Reverberate is a classic piece in red’s arsenal for Commander and nothing else in this set wows me, but I’ve come to expect that from Core sets.
Top 5 Red Magic 2013 Cards for Casual and Commander
5. Krenko, Mob Boss
2. Thundermaw Hellkite
1. Mindclaw Shaman
The biggest takeaway for Red mages in M13 is the rise of looting. Over the last six months, looting has really picked up and I love that Red is getting more. But Mindclaw Shaman is what I find most interesting for red since it means temporary control is going beyond creatures and into the mind. Or maybe I just really like playing other people’s decks for fun. Don’t get me wrong, the dragons are great but you always need more ways to mess with a Blue wizard.