It's hard to believe this card hasn't been
reprinted in a regular expansion since Urza's
Saga, especially when M14 had Flames of the
Firebrand. I mean, Chandra is cool and all, but
there are more ways to represent damage than
fire, and lightning has been part of red's
domain since Alpha. In terms of gameplay, Arc
Lightning has always been a solid card, and it
still is now. There is less of a focus on fast
cheap creatures in the current environment than
there was in Urza's Saga, where the original
printing wrought havoc on Wild Dogs and Birds of
Paradise, and further increased the value of
Soltari Priest. Nonetheless, the flexibility and
versatility of this card will no doubt be valued
by modern red decks.
Today's card of the day is Arc Lightning which
is a three mana Red sorcery that deals three
damage divided as you choose between one, two,
or three target creatures or players. Burn
or removal at sorcery speed is always less
desirable than faster options as it reduces
options down your two main phases only and not
during combat or opposing end steps.
Still, three damage divided is very efficient as
it can potentially be a two or three for one and
for one mana more than the average Lightning
Bolt successor. Overall the flexibility,
even held down by timing, makes this a very
strong card for Red and one that will be popular
maindecked or sidedecked in current formats
while it is in rotation.
In Limited this is a viable first pick in
Booster if the rare is weak as it is removal,
direct damage, and potentially a small scale
board sweep all in one. There are few
situations where having this in hand or
topdecking it isn't beneficial and it should
always be used when running Red in Sealed.
The possible three for one or even just three
damage is enough in the format to make this a
key card and the single Red in the cost works
well in any two or three color builds.
Sometimes cards are good because of raw power.
Lightning Bolt does three damage. It's much more
powerful than Arc Lightning as it can deal the
same amount of damage for 1/3 the mana and it
does it as an instant. But Arc Lightning has one
thing Lightning Bolt doesn't: versatility. If
you use your Lightning Bolt to take out a 1/1
creature, 2 points of damage are wasted. With
Arc Lightning, you can take out THREE 1/1
creatures. Or a 2/2 and a 1/1. Or a 1/1 and deal
2 to an opponent's face. Or two 1/1's and a 1/1.
You get the picture.
Don't read this and leave thinking that Arc
Lightning is better than Lightning Bolt, because
it's not. But Arc Lightning is a card certainly
worth considering - at least as a sideboard card
- because of the versatility it provides, and
it's a legitimate first pick in limited.