Avacyn Restored Set Review Red
Yes! It’s that time and the full set spoiler is up online. That can mean only one thing, it’s pre-release weekend and next weekend is the release. Translation, all the local shops are gearing up for two weekends filled with events, and it’s time for me to share my advice on the new cards with all my readers. After all we’re going to be playing with these new toys for the next twenty-two months. Also at the end I’ll be giving advice on key cards to look for if you are playing in the sealed box tournament at the local shop, Mages and Sages, next weekend.
As always I’ll be breaking the cards down into six different articles and focusing on the formats that these cards will be seeing play. Let’s face it, not every card is good in all formats and I don’t have the time to keep saying that. I’ll be calling each card as I see them, and if I don’t talk about a format then the card is trash in it. If you think I’m not giving do respect to a card please use the comments below to share your opinions. Only by sharing our ideas can we reach understanding and improvement.
That all said it is now time to get on with the reviews.
Aggravate – 3RR – Instant – U – Aggravate deals 1 damage to each creature target player controls Each creature dealt damage this way attacks this turn it able. Nice to see we get some mass removal for Spirit token deck in Block. As it stands this might do some good in limited if you oppenent has a lot of X/1 creatures you need to kill in Limited.
Archwing Dragon – 2RR – Creature – Dragon – R – Flying, haste. At the beginning of the end step, return Archwing Dragon to its owner’s hand. 4/4. Love how we got a dragon in every set of a block that really doesn’t need a dragon, because, and I really want to stress this, WHY THE HECK ARE THEIR DRAGONS ON A GOTHIC HORROR WORLD? Still this does have an edge in Limited because it allows you to play out a large flying beater that can dodge removal spells. The fact that you end up hurting yourself with tempo loses is going to keep this out of other formats and it should be worth a nice quarter in your local shops jank box.
Banner’s Raised – R – Instant – C – Creatures your control get +1/+0 until end of turn. LEE ROY… JENKINS! This red combat trick is perfect of Limited because it helps red do what red does best, attack with everything until you opponent dies.
Battle Hymn – 1R -Instant – C – Add R to your mana pool for each creature you control. I’m thinking this just sucks. I mean if you are beating them down with a large force of dudes what do you need this mana for? Seriously someone post in the comments about when you want to cast this card.
Bonefire of the Damned – XXR – Sorcery – M – Bonfire of the Damned deals X damage to target player and each creature he or she controls. Miracle XR (You many cast this card for its miracle ocst when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.) Okay, now I see why you might want to have a few Battle Hymns in Limited. One-sided wrath that gets cheaper as a top deck that will leave you opponent wide open for one heck of an alpha-strike. Even if this is a better Fireball I don’t think it is ever going to see play outside of Limited.
Burn at the Stake – 2RRR- Sorcery – R – As an additional cost to cast Burn at the Stake, tap any number of untapped creatures you control. Burn at the Stake deals damage to target creature or player equal to three times the number of creature tapped this way. Boros tokens just found it’s finisher in Block and might be a real threat after rotation. Also a finisher in heavy red deck in Limited. With just seven dudes in play this ends the game even if those dudes didn’t attack at all. I love the card flavorful and deadly.
Dangerous Wager – 1R – Instant – C – Discard your hand, then draw two cards. Okay a smart player is going to use this as a sure thing instead of a full gamble. This is much better than Faithless Looting and I plan to switch for them in my Red Deck Wins. I mean Faithless is useless when you have run out of cards and need to sandbag it for a turn until you draw a useless land. If not you end up with another dead draw the turn after as you wait for something to discard. Trust me Dangerous Wager is the kind of dig that aggressive red/x decks are going to want in Limited and mono-red decks are going to want in Constructed formats.
Demolish – 3R – Sorcery – C – Destroy target artifact or land. Limited fodder. Turn four is just too late for when we really need to blow up a problem artifact and with ramp decks land destruction has become little more than a squirrel instead of a speed bump to them.
Dual Casting – 1R – Enchantment – Aura – R – Enchant creature. Enchanted creature has “R, tap: Copy target instant or sorcery spell you control. You many choose new targets for the copy.” This is a limited bomb that a lot of people are going to try to break in other formats. This may get pulled off if they are smart about the creature that they enchant with this, remember hexproof. Also U/R decks that run hexproof dudes are getting some fringe play in Legacy, Standard, and Block. Only time, brewing, and testing will tell which of these three formats will break this aura. As for my own uses I’m thinking my Jhoria of the Ghitu deck just found a new tool.
Falkenrath Exterminator – 1R – Creature – Vampire Archer – U – Whenever Falkenrath Exterminator deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it. 2R: Falkenrath Exterminator deals damage to target creature equal to the number of +1/+1 counters on Falkenrath Exterminator. 1/1. This has got me brewing a new Red Deck Wins for Block and after rotation that has a vampire tribal element. That said in Limited this is a great investment because it has some built in removal that can be used on turn three after you get in for the first counter. Totally loving this as a red two drop for a ton of different decks.
Fervent Cather – 2R – Creature – Human Knight – C – Haste. When Fervent Cather enters the battlefield, target creature can’t block this turn. 2/1. In Limited this goes great with Falkenrath Exterminator or any other good one or two drop attacker. In the constructed realms this still proves itself in aggro builds that want to be able to push past blockers. With the blink effects in this set this is a very powerful three drop.
Gang of Devils – 5R – Creature – Devil – U – When gang of Devils dies, it deals 3 damage divided as you choose among one, two, or three target creatures and/or players. 3/3. Great in Limited but too expensive to cast in any other format but Commander.
Guise of Fire – R – Enchantment – Aura – C – Enchant creature. Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and attacks each turn if able. Limited good card only. Either it pumps one of your beaters you plan to use every turn, or it forces the opponents utility creature to attack into your hungry blockers. Out side of limited you are just playing with fire if you cast this.
Hanweir Lancer – 2R – Creature – Human Knight – C – Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.) As long as Hanweir Lancer is paired with another creature, both creature have first strike. 2/2. I’m loving red for limited in this set. Dropping this and pairing it with the one that gives haste is going to totally put combat under my control. Even without the haste soulbond this creature is awesome sauce because first strike is so powerful in Limited were you want your opponent to make bad blocks.
Havengul Vampire – 3R – Creature – Vampire – U – Whenever Havengul Vampire deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it. Whenever another creature dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Havengul Vampire. 2/2. I love, love the vampires in this set. This is totally going into my Red Vamps Win deck as the four drop. It’s the prefect “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” card for the deck. Even if you vampires are blocked this guy is going to get bigger. Also if you have some kind of one-sided wrath his is going to get huge.
Heirs of Stromkirk – 2RR – Creature – Vampire – C – Intimidate (This creature can’t be block expect by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share a color with it.) Whenever Heirs of Stromkirk deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it. 2/2. I might not be playing this in a constructed deck, but I will be playing it in a limited deck. Intimidate is an ability that is almost as good as flying and even better if you opponent has no artifact or matching colored creatures. When that happens you just get to walk all over them and with this being a growing vampire it’s not going to take long for the Heirs to feast upon them.
Hound of Griselbrand – 2RR – Creature – Elemental Hound – R – Double strike – Undying (when this creature dies, if it had no +1/+1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control with a +1/+1 counter on it.) 2/2. That’s not bad for a Limited hell hound. This might see some play in R/G/X Birthing Pod decks, but other than that it’s not going to make much waves in Standard as it fights with a lot of other cards for the four-drop slot.
Kessig Malcontents – 2R – Creature – Human Warrior – U – When Kessig Malcontents enters the battlefield, it deals damage to target player equal to the number of Humans you control. 3/1. Boros Human decks want this in Block and post-rotation, but that is about it. In a Limited deck you might be able to get one or two points out of this when you cast it and that really isn’t breaking it’s ability that much. Granted if you use white and blue blink effects this could get more powerful in your Limited decks.
Kruin Striker – 1R – Creature – Human Warrior – C – Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, Kruin Striker gets +1/+0 and gains trample until end of turn. 2/1. Limited, yes; Boros tokens, maybe. I mean, yes it’s a good attacker because it gets trample, but with only one toughness it’s going to die when you use it. Also it dies to a lot of removal that is floating around so it might not even be able to get in for the damage at all. If I get this in my Sealed Pool at some point along with some token making spells you will see me use it, but as I don’t play Sealed very much casting this is going to be rare.
Lightning Mauler – 1R -Creature – Human Berserker – U – Soulbond. As long as Lightning Mauler is paired with another creature, both creatures have haste. 2/1. This is my favorite of the soulbond creatures. Granted pairing this on turn two might not always be the best idea, sure you get an extra two point in the race, but don’t you want to save the pairing for your turn three beaters? Still bonding this on turn two could be a false signal to you opponent when you are holding a three-drop with haste. Out of all the soulbond creatures this seems like the one that is going to get a lot of use outside of Limited.
Lightning Prowess – 2R – Enchantment – Aura – U – Enchant creature. Enchanted creature has haste and “Tap: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature of player.” It’s a Limited card for sure. Either you are putting it on a death touch creature for repeated removal or you are dropping it on dude in the late game to power it into you opponent when their blockers are used up. Other than that it’s junk.
Mad Prophet – 3R – Creature – Human Shaman – C – Haste. Tap, Discard a card: Draw a card. 2/2. Another Limited card for red decks. Either you get to use it to filter unwanted lands, or you can just bash in for two points with it. Granted I do want to alter the art on two to make them into Jay and Silent Bob. Snooch to the censored Nooch!
Malicious Intent – 1R – Enchantment – Aura – C – Enchant creature. Enchanted creature has “Tap: Target creature can’t block this turn.” Another aura for Limited. Even if this wasn’t an aura it wouldn’t be good in a constructed deck because you are giving up a creature just to get another around blockers.
Malignus – 3RR – Creature – Elemental Spirit – M – Malignus’s Power and toughness are each equal to half the highest life total among your opponents, round up. Damage that would be dealt by Malignus can’t be prevented. */*. Well that’s a Commander creature if I have ever seen one. Still being able to eat half an opponent’s life with one creature is very powerful in Limited, but the fact that this creature gets smaller as you win leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Pillar of Flame – R – Sorcery – Pillar of Flame deals 2 damage ot target creature of player. IF a creature dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead. That’s a Shock that is good enough to make it into Standard. One of the key things that has been ruining direct damage in Standard is that against undying you need two removal spells and against Moorland Haunt they just end up with a 1/1 flier after the fact. Hell this even get around regeneration because it doesn’t kill the creature as the kill is replaced with an exile trigger. Nice burn spell.
Raging Poltergiest – 4R – Creature -Spirit – C – 6/1. Limited cannon fodder. No flying, haste, or trample means you need to do a lot of work to get this to work for you. With the narrow building of Limited formats part of that work is already done. In constructed you end up ruining your deck with cards that are only meant to work with this one. I will be doing an alter of this card to have a very large angry dead chicken, get it… Raging Poultry Geist.
Reforge the Soul – 3RR – Sorcery – R – Each player discards his or her hand and draws seven cards. Miracle 1R (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you drew it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.) You know that new red deck I’m building; it has two of these main decked. When this is the last card in you hand it’s a full fresh grip to bring you back into the aggro game after a wrath effect. Red based aggro decks are going to love this in Limited and Standard for that reason, but I don’t thing that it’s going to find much love in other formats because you don’t want to rig your draw just to lose the cards you are holding. No, this is the card that brings you back into the game when you are land flooded, mana screwed, or have run out of gas.
Riot Ringleader – 2R – Creature – Human Warrior – C – Whenever Roit Ringleader attacks, Human creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn. 2/2. Turn one Champion of the Parish, turn two Lightning Mauler, no pairings,swing with Champion of the Parish for two, turn three this pairing with Mauler and swing for ten, turn four Hero of Oxid Ridge to swing for eighteen, then extend the hand for the “good game.” Yeah, this is good enough for Standard right now as well as Limited and Block decks that focus on humans.
Rite of Ruin – 5RR – Sorcery – R – Choose an order for artifacts, creatures, and lands. Each player sacrifices one permanent of the first type, sacrifices two the second type, then sacrifices three of the third type. In Limited this is a bomb, but outside of that it’s just another cool Commander card.
Rush of Blood – 2R – Instant – U – Target creature gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is its power. Wait I knew I had read that game text before. This is just Fatal Frenzy without the sacrifice downside which was a functional reprint of Berserk. Oh, this is going to get played in a few formats. Infect red decks are going to love this just attack with your Infect dork then when they don’t block slap it with a pair of Mutagenic Growths and then hit it with this for the win. In Limited this can turn nearly fatal creatures into instant death.
Scalding Devil – 1R – Creature – Devil – C – 2R: Scalding Devil deals 1 damage to target player. 1/1. Limited fodder only. Come on three mana just to ping, what deck wants to do that?
Somberwald Vigilante – R – Creature – Human Warrior – C – Whenever Somberwald Vigilante becomes blocked by a creature, Somberwald Vigilante deals 1 damage to that creature. 1/1. Nice for Limited as it lets you kill their early game blockers, with a deathtouch trick this could even take down larger prey. Totally a one-drop I will want to draft for my red decks.
Stonewright – R – Creature – Human Shaman – U – Soulbond. As long as Stonewright is paired with another creature, each of those creatures has “R: This creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.” 1/1. Nice limited one drop that allows you to get use out of your extra mana by giving you two dorks with fire-breathing. Granted that is all it is good for.
Thatcher Revolt – 2R – Sorcery – C – Put three 1/1 red Human creature tokens with haste onto the battlefield. Sacrifice those tokens at the beginning of the next end step. Yeah, with all the good cards for Boros tokens this is going to see a lot of play in any format that decks is brewed up.
Thunderbolt – 1R – Instant – C – Choose one – Thunderbolt deals 3 damage to target player; or Thunderbolt deals 4 damage to target creature with flying. Hmm, that clause that keeps this from hitting non-fliers does limit this card from getting out of the Limited format.
Thunderous Wrath – 4RR – Instant – U – Thunderous Wrath deals 5 damage to target creature or player. Miracle R. I see this finding a home in Legacy and Commander, and getting no love elsewhere but Limited. That is because in Limited this could be the top deck to win the day or deal with a very large creature you must kill.
Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded – RR – Planeswalker – Tibalt – M – +1: Draw a card, then discard a card at random. -4: Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded deals damage equal to the number of cards in target player’s hand to that player. -6: Gain control of all creature until end of turn. Untap them. They gain haste until end of turn. Starting Loyalty 2. There has been a lot of talk on the internet either bashing Tibalt or praising him, but I’m in the praise camp. Mike Flores wrote a great article about Tibalt you can find here. Tibalt is in uncharted waters as the first two-drop planeswalker and he does everything that Red Deck Wins want him to do. He digs to get better cards when you are flooded with lands. He can blast control with damage that can’t be countered. In the aggro race he gives you every creature for the mother of all alpha-strikes. I’m getting two for my Red Deck Wins.
Tyrant of Discord – 4RRR – Creature – Elemental – R – When Tyrant of Discord enters the battlefield, target opponent choose a permanent at random and sacrifices it. If a non-land permanent is sacrificed this way, repeat this process. 7/7. Commander only card. I understand that this could wipe out an opponent’s board if the force is with you. Yes, it might work in Limited as a bomb but that takes a lot of luck. If I’m counting on luck I would rather play this in some kind of Unburial Rites deck against a deck with only one land in play, such as a fast Tempered Steel start, and nuke them from orbit. Just remember my padawans Obi-Wan says there is no such thing as luck.
Uncanny Speed – 1R – Instant – C – Target creature gets; +3/+0 and gains haste until end of turn. When in doubt, run like hell! Loving this in Limited as a combat trick or just to bash my opponents in the face when you don’t expect it. I just need the right one drop to make this really lethal on turn three…
Vexing Devil – R – Creature – Devil – R – When Vexing Devil enters the battlefield, any opponent may have it deal 4 damage to him or her. If a player does, sacrifice Vexing Devil. That will work with an Uncanny Speed. If they don’t take the damage you can be sure they are holding some answer for this card. By waiting until you have a trick of your own you are posing the question of either taking the four now or taking a lot more once I move to combat. Trust me if you draft this or get it in a sealed pool you want to pair it with haste abilities so you never give them time to untap and answer it without damage. In constructed decks is when you are just going to run it out turn one to either deal four or beat them to death each turn. Personally, I’ll be willing to take the four on turn one when this gets played against me.
Vigilante Justice – 3R – Enchantment – U – Whenever a human enters the battlefield under your control. Vigilante Justice deals 1 damage to target creature or player. Yup, even more good things for Boros Human decks.
Zealous Conscripts – 4R – Creature – Human Warrior – R -Haste. When Zealous Conscripts enters the battlefield, gain control of target permanent until end of turn. Untap that permanent. It gains haste until end of turn. 3/3. Loving that red now gets a Threaten effect with every set these days. Well this is a little over priced for a Constructed deck it’s a Bomb in Limited as a 3/3 with haste. It’s also great in U/R Commander decks built around taking control of your opponent best dudes. Add a copy of Sundial of the Infinite and you will never have to give the creature back. In Limited pair this with blink effects so you really mess with you opponents as you just keep stealing their best dude every turn.
I have to say it, red passed with flying colors this set. Everything is an A+. The Humans being mad as hell and ready to fight like mad is there. The devils and wanton destruct are riding right along side with them to flavor town. The cards that were made for Commander in this set really push the power level and every Limited bomb is totally a Commander worthy card. As for Draft, I want to be in red with this set so much because it has aggro out the backside. The impact on Standard is going to be felt as Boros Humans and Red Deck Wins have gotten so many tools they were missing in the past sets in the block.
Those of you playing in the sealed box better be brewing up some red/X decks next weekend. Boros is were it is at but U/R Humans also has some gas if you didn’t get a good mix of all the right white cards.
I just hope that green is able to keep up with the power we have seen in red. We are soon going to find out as that’s the next color up on the review block. Until then, this has been…
Jeffrey Carmichael II
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