Well it's that time of year again. Theros becomes legal for all formats on September 20th as it pushes out the Innistrad block out of Standard. This means that Magic is completely refreshing once again. Seeing as we are all going to be drafting the set for the next five months, and the fact that it's Sealed PTQ season means that we are going to have to take a cold hard look at the set. Join me now as I go card by card in my reviews.
Akroan Crusader – R – Creature – Human Soldier – C – Heroic – Whenever you cast a spell that targets Akroan Crusader, put a 1/1 red Soldier creature token with haste onto the battlefield. 1/1. That's a nice Red hero. With the good red two drop enchantments I can see this being a Standard staple. In Limited this is just perfect as each combat trick gets you more dudes to attack or block with.
Anger of the Gods – 1RR – Sorcery – R – Anger of the Gods deals 3 damage to each creature. If a creature dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead. Red Deck Wins is back baby. This is just the sweeper the deck needs for aggro on aggro matches. Totally a card to get a playset of for Standard. Also, not too bad in Limited as it seems to be the only wrath effect in the set.
Arena Athlete – 1R – Creature – Human – U – Heroic – Whenever you cast a spell that targets Arena Athlete, target creature an opponent controls can't block this turn. 2/1. Not as good as the goblin from M14 but this will get the job done in Limited as long as you have some nice combat tricks to use with it.
Borderland Minotaur – 2RR – Creature – Minotaur Warrior – C – 4/3. Welcome to Wooshtur. Dollah twenty-five, Bub. Okay, so the joke really doesn't fit all that well. Guess I'm going to have to alter this card to be a Canadian customs agent. This is that big dumb beater for Limited that is going to be crashing the red-zone border into combat all day long in Limited.
Boulderfall – 6RR – Instant – C – Boulderfall deals 5 damage divided as you choose amoung any number of target creatures and/or players. I like the flavor of this for Limited. It's like you just bowling with boulders to hit weenies or just kill one medium dudes plus hurt your opponent. For that Mana cost I wish it did more damage but hey it hard to control a boulder.
Coordinated Assault – R – Instant – U – Up to two target creatures each get +1/+0 and gain first strike until end of turn. I'm loving this for drafting aggro. Just think about it, turn one drop Akroan Crusader, turn two drop another Crusader and swing six with four dudes. Yup I'm going to be drafting a lot of red, blue, and black these next few months. Glory to Grixis.
Deathbellow Raider – 1R – Creature – Minotaur Berserker – C Deathbellow raider attack each turn if able. 2B: Regenerate Deathbellow Raider. 2/3. Just about the only one of this cycle of off color activated abilities that doesn't suck for Limited.
Demolish – 3R – Sorcery – C – Destroy target artifact of land. Nice card for Limited. The artifacts so far aren't all that awesome but hey, who doesn't like to nuke lands when your opponent is mana short.
Dragon Mantle – R – Enchantment – Aura – C – Enchant creature. When Dragon Mantle enters the battlefield, draw a card. Enchanted creature has “R: This creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn. I'm shocked I didn't think of it before, but that blue dude that has scry 1 as his heroic ability is really awesome with the cycle of draw auras. As it stand this in Limited is nuts because not only does it make a dork with evasion a finisher but it also digs.
Ember Swallower – 2RR – Creature – Elemental – R -5RR: Monstrosity 3. When Ember Swallower becomes monstrous, each player sacrifices three lands. 4/5. They really need some kind of monstrous enabler in the set like Rita, Lord Zed, or the Witch Hagard. Give yourself fifty internets if you got all three of those names. Honestly, when you have seven or six lands who is going to care if three get blown up? Maybe if you were the dude that drafted like five copies of Demolish this is going to be the finisher for you, but honestly that's way too much work.
Fanatic of Mogis – 3R – Creature – Minotaur Shaman – U – When Fanatic of Mogis enters the battlefield, it deals damage to each opponent equal to your devotion to red. 4/2. Yeah, Red Deck Wins loves this guy. Red's devotion is so awesome because it's all burn to the face. This plus the Red God and some double Red casting cost dudes and you have a deck.
Firedrinker Satyr – R – Creature – Satyr Shaman – R – Whenever Firedrinker Satry is dealt damage, it deals that much damage to you. 1R: Firedrinker Satry gets +1/+0 until end of turn and deals 1 damage to you. 2/1. So happy this is rare because outside of giving this lifelink I just don't see the upside of it. Maybe with Madcap Skills this is awesome. Yeah a 5/1 that needs two blockers on turn two is very nice, but still. This is just too much of a risk if it eats damage.
Flamespeaker Adept – 2R – Creature – Human Shaman – U – Whenever you scry, Flamespeaker Adept gets +2/+0 and gains first strike until end of turn. 2/3. Yes, please. Totally looking forward to drafting UR scry soon.
Hammer of Purphoros – 1RR – Legendary Enchantment Artifact – R – Creature you control has haste. 2R, tap, sacrifice a land: Put a 3/3 colorless Golem enchantment artifact creature token onto the battlefield. Stop, hammer time! This is going to be in Red Deck Wins at least as a two-of. In Limited this is a bomb as it just turn land flood into beaters. Loving this card.
Ill-Tempered Cyclops – 3R – Creature – Cyclops – C Trample. 5R: Monstrosity 3. 3/3. Not bad for limited. The fact that all the other Monsters lack trample is kind of odd... you would think big nasty monsters would be able to steam roll over most things. At least they do in the movies.
Labyrinth Champion – 3R – Creature – Human Warrior – R – Heroic – Whenever you cast a spell that targets Labyrinth Champion, Labyrinth Champion deals 2 damage to target creature or player. I want this in my cube. Pack-one, pick-one windmill slam right here. In Limited R/B or R/U is so boss even if we have to wait a set for those duals.
Lightning Strike – 1R – Instant – C – Lightning Strike deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Limited burn spell over here, nothing else to see people, moving on.
Magma Jet – 1R – Instant – u – Magma Jets deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Scry 2. But Fen, why is this so much better than Lightning Strike? Well, Johnny, it all has to deal with that scry 2 ability. See, when I kill you dude during your end step with this I get to fixed my top deck and crush you faster. Totally awesome in Limited and will see play in Standard.
Messenger's Speed – R – Enchantment – Aura – C – Enchant creature. Enchanted creature has trample and haste. I like this for Limited as you can drop some fatties late and just bash face.
Minotaur Skullcleaver – 2R – Creature – Minotaur Berserker – C – Haste. When Minotaur Skullcleaver enters the battlefield, it gets +2/+0 until end of turn. 2/2. I want a blink effect so bad in this Limited format. I guess I'll just have to pair this with some blue bound effects in my sweet UR draft decks. Honestly if you are drafting any kind of red/x deck in Limited you should take these as it forces your opponent to have to play around them if you have a bunch or else you'll just get in for four when you drop this.
Ordeal of Purphoros – 1R – Enchantment – Aura – U – Enchant creature. Whenever enchanted creature attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on it. Then if it has three or more +1/+1 counters on it, sacrifice Ordeal of Purphoros. When you sacrifice Ordeal of Purphoros, it deals 3 damage to target creature or player. The fact that you can pair this with the unleash creatures of the Rakdos guild makes this a brewers card in Standard. I'm sure we are going to see some kind of dirty red deck that makes use of this in the near future. In Limited it's awesome because it's more gas for your awesome red heroes.
Peak Eruption – 2R – Sorcery – U – Destroy target Mountain. Peak Eruption deals 3 damage to that land's controller. Totally sweet sideboard tech seeing how all the flavors of RDW and Red/X are going to jump to the front of the bus when this set gets to be Standard legal. In Limited it's just a good card to take for when you are playing against the other red mage.
Portent of Betrayal – 3R – Sorcery – C – Gain control of target creature until end of turn. Untap that creature. It gains haste until end of turn. Scry 1. Are you for real Wizards, are you for real? Not only do I get to take you best dude and hit you with it, I get to scry as well. I'm just going to be forcing U/R in Limited.
Priest of Iroas – R – Creature – Human Cleric – C – 3W, sacrifice Priest of Iroas: Destroy target enchantment. 1/1. Nice! Not only do we get to know the name of the W/R god but we also get a one drop that in enemy colors, which has a rare dual in this set, that can kill any Nix creature you want it to. Granted as a suicide bomber, but still it's removal. This is totally a powerful card in Limited.
Purphoros, God of the Forge – 3R – Legendary Enchantment Creature – God – M – Indestructible. As long as your devotion to red is less than five, Purphoros isn't a creature. Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, Purphoros deals 2 damage to each opponent. 2R: Creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn. 6/5. Hands down one of the best of the gods. The fact that he doesn't care about the color of the creatures means that in Limited he is an all-star. With some good token makers or a bunch of ways to just power spawn creatures this is a finisher... OH, Assemble the Legion... #winning!
Purphoros's Emissary – 3R - Enchantment Creature – Ox – U – Bestow 6R. Purphoros's Emissary can't be blocked except by two or more creatures. Enchanted creature gets +3/+3 and can't be blocked except by two or more creatures. 3/3. Great in Limited but I just think it's way to slow in constructed.
Rage of Purphoros 4R – Sorcery – C – Rage of Purphoros deals 4 damage to target creature. It can't be regenerated this turn. Scry 1. As far as janky five-drop removal spells that only get played in Limited, because you need another removal spell go, this one is that bad. Thanks for jamming scry onto just about every bad card in this set Wizards. Make it kind of tricky for new players to spot the bad ones.
Rageblood Shaman – 1RR – Creature – Minotaur Shaman – R – Trample. Other Minotaur creatures you control get +1/+1 and have trample. 2/3. Woot, come on Didgeridoo reprint! I want me some Minotaur action in Modern. Heck, reprinting that in Standard would be awesome. nice to see a cool lord for the man-beast tribe. Also, way to get around the whole copy-righted issue of Bloodrage + Minotaur, so creative.
Satry Rambler – 1R – Creature – Satry – C – Trample. 2/1. It's cool for Limited as you know we are going to be pumping it up with auras and tricks but that's about all the love I have for this guy.
Spark Jolt – R – Instant – C – Spark jolt deals 1 damage to target creature or player. Scry 1. Like I was saying about crappy cards turned good in Limited just because they got hit with scry power. Early game this is going to be awesome as it kills your opponents weenies, but late game it gets crazy as you use it to scry and ping your heroic creatures that can take the hit. It's really cool, and I can see it getting passed when drafting over by a lot of players because “it only does one damage.”
Spearpoint Oread – 2R – Enchantment Creature – Nymph – C – Bestow 5R. First strike. Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has first strike. 2/2. Red is so good in Limited that it wants to play the bestow creatures just as beaters instead of auras.
Stoneshock Giant – 3RR – Creature – Giant – U – 6RR: Monstrosity 3. When stoneshock Giant becomes monstrous, creatures without flying your opponents control can't block this turn. 5/4. If you are playing Red and the game has gone long enough for this to become monstrous it's nice that it's ability should win the game ninety-nine percent of the time.
Stormbreath Dragon – 3RR – Creature – Dragon – M – Flying, haste, protection from white. 5RR: Monstrosity 3. When Stormbreath Dragon becomes monstrous, it deals damage to each opponent equal to the number of cards in the player's hand. 4/4. Even if this didn't have the monstrosity mechanic it would have been a fine “we need a dragon in every set” mythic. This cards ability isn't even good in commander because of all the table nuking that goes on in that format. In Limited it's awesome because we don't have a table nuke big enough to kill it. Honestly this is just a flier that you cast and beat face with until it eats removal.
Titan of Eternal Fire – 5R – Creature – Giant – R – Each Human creature you control has “R, tap: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player.” 5/6. This would have been awesome with Burn at the Stake. Hmm, maybe we will see a budget combo deck for Modern with this. As stands it's cool for limited when you get you board flooded and no one can attack, and so you blast them with pingers during their end steps.
Titan's Strength – R – Instant – C – Target creature gets +3/+1 until end of turn. Scry 1. All the best combat tricks have scry. So yes, play this in Limited.
Two-headed Cerberus – 1RR – Creature – Hound – C – Double strike. ½. In any other Limited format this would be junk, but with all the combat tricks and auras we are going to have to play this gets really good really fast. This unblocked with three copies of Titan's Strength in hand is GG. When you have cards in hand and open mana you opponent has to block it just to respect the tricks you might be holding.
Wild Celebrants – 3RR – Creature – Satyr – C – when Wild Celebrants enters the battlefield, you may destroy target artifact. 5/3. I think these guys must be sports fans. Still cool beater that can blow up artifacts in Limited.
That's it for Red, which I have to say is my favorite part of the set. A lot of decks are getting some great tools. I really want to be in Red for Limited, either with Blue or Black. Also I can't wait to test out some new RDW brews as well as some new combos with the Red cards. I have to say this might just be the best color in the set. Guess that means it's time to get working on reviewing the Green cards.
This has been...
Jeffrey Carmichael II
Fenthing Jeffrey on Facebook
KDPfenthing on MTGO
https://twitter.com/fenthing on Twitter
Fenthing on TwitchTV