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Ray Powers

*Level III Judge

*WOTC Tournament Organizer for Arizona & San Diego


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10.20.04 

 

Champions in Limited Ė Red

 

Good Day everyone!

 

If you read last weekís review, you know that my lead in to this week indicated that I felt that red was a weak color in limited. While Red does have some extremely strong cards, the problem is I feel itís not very deep as a limited color, consisting of a couple good burn spells, a couple broken rares, and like one creature I would first pick.

 

Weíll take a look and you can see if you agree with me.

 

Akki Avalanchers

Not a bad start. Heís a one drop that can be a 3/1 when he needs to be, and is good for early beats. As Iíve said before though, this is not the format where one drops are so important. If you are drafting a rush deck with R/B and several Nezumi Cutthroat, and do not year Yamabushiís Storm, then you go for it, other than that heís a mid pick at best.

 

Akki Coalflinger

If this guy was a common, Iíd have a bit more respect for redís creatures, but even he is not that good when heís facing bushido at pretty much every other card in the three mana cost range, making his first strike almost useless. His ability to give otherís first strike is still worthwhile though, making him a mid pick.

 

Akki Lavarunner

Since we are through black, we need to go back to analyzing flip cards based on the top half only, and I have no desire to pay four mana for a 1/1 haste creature.

 

Akki Rockspeaker

Iím sure in limited there is some combo that makes this guy useful, but this is limited. In limited, he is a Monís Goblin Raider you canít play on turn one. This does not impress me.

 

Akki Underminer

Once again, a glorious four mana 1/1 creature whoís ability we will never see in limited. I do hereby determine that Akki is Magic-speak for ďsucky.Ē

 

Battle-Mad Ronin

I think I would like this guy if he only cost one mana instead of two. The bushido ability is basically like giving him a form of invasion, but still, heís only a 1/1, thatís a lot of turns to victory of him getting through.  In addition, his requirement to attack each turn means you canít use his spectacular bushido for blocking, which would make him a high pick. Letís call him a low to mid pick.

 

Ben-Ben, Akki Hermit

First, I want to know why red creatures that cost four mana are 1/1 creatures. Is there something in the cost table that I donít understand? Canít anything be a 2/2 or a 1/3 or maybe even a nice real 3/3 Hill Giant? In any case, this guyís ability is very nice, and will keep your opponent from attacking while you just keep swinging withÖ well, all your 1/1 creatures for four mana. L

 

Blind With Anger

Holy Poop! Who snuck a good card in with the red cards? This card is obviously a misprint, as its not burn, itís good, and its red. I am awaiting the errata to make it a blue card, but until then, this card is a high to first pick.

 

Blood Rites

This card is a hard card to rate. It is starting to get a lot of publicity, and a double Goblin Bombardment sounds good, if it didnít cost five mana and have a mana cost on the ability, making you leave R1 open for any situation you may want to use it. So the big question is: Is it worth it?  My gut feeling is no, but it may be due to my dislike of red as a whole, and my desire to play red primarily as a splash color.

 

Brothers Yamazaki

For red, a 2/1 samurai bushido creature for three mana is quite the good deal, but explain to me why red has the bushido creature that has one less power than blackís Nezumi Ronin at the same cost, and still dies to being blocked to any 2/2 creature, unlike all the other samurai at that cost. While playing red, I draft this guy because heís a solid card, but he only solidifies for me the feeling that red is completely shafted on creatures.

 

Brutal Deciever

While heís at least a 2/2 for three mana, he is not the best of the deceivers. Perhaps his best use is to be able to kill all of the 2/2 bushido guys out there with his ability, its mana intensity makes it not a great kill card. Another card I will pick if I am forced to play heavy red, but still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

 

Crushing Pain

One of redís only ways to deal with big dragons is to run one of your four mana 1/1 creatures into it, then to play this card. But shouldnít the real answer be ďI should instead be playing black which has like three common cards alone that will kill a dragon?Ē

 

Desperate Ritual

This is another card with no real use in limited, and to be honest probably not one in constructed either.

 

Devouring Rage

This is one of redís ďOne ofĒ cards that I have talked about in previous colors, being a great finisher in most draft or sealed deck cards, especially since it is an instant. While slightly more disruptible than Devouring Greed, since they can try to kill the creature to be pumped in response, the card is still worth playing if you have enough spirits to make it a kill card.

 

Earthshaker

And in the uncommon slot we get to the first of redís good stuff. When in the right deck, this guy is a game winner all on his own. His ability to earthquake for two ruins the ground game of black, white and, er, red. But, to be honest, all you need is the Earthshaker himself punching through every round to finish off your opponent. This guy is a high to first pick, and when partnered with white or blue due to their high quantity of fliers, spirits, and arcane spells, can make for a great deck.

 

Ember-Fist Zubera

Obviously you want to play a card that gives you ability to say, ďFist youĒ during a Magic game, but is he really worth it? In a red heavy deck, where the two drops are few and far between, the answer is yes. If you are playing white, green, or black with red, you can normally find a better two-drop than him.

 

Frostwielder

Well, first I would like to point out that the four mana 1/1 creature streak is broken! Now we pay four mana for a 1/2! What a bonus! Apparently, now the ability to ďtimĒ costs more mana as well. Now, thatís not to say to not take this girl. I think she has made the cut every time I have gotten her. Just keep in mind that on turn five, the first time you get to use her, the odds of there being one toughness creatures around to just start picking off is slim to none, so donít make her a first pick expecting her to single handedly win the game.

 

Glacial Ray

Glacial Ray, to me, is Wizards saying in bold font lettering RED IS SUPPOSED TO BE A SPLASH COLOR. Itís probably the best common in the set, and itís only one colored mana, and its splice ability is only one colored mana, making it a card you card you can splash easily. If you add in the fact that the other great burn spell, Yamabushiís Flame, and the red Dragon, are all only one colored mana, it seems to me that the concept is pretty clear. This also makes red a worse color to draft as a main color, because itís so easy for other drafters to pick up your great cards and splash them in their decks.

 

Godo, Bandit Warlord

If you are drafting r/w samurai, you pick this guy in a heartbeat. If not, unless you have a broken piece of equipment, you pass on him. Six mana for a 3/3 is not the best deal, even with his ability to attack twice.

 

Hanabi Blast

This is another great burn spell for red, and for a nice change of pace is not splashable, so people wonít be stealing it on you to splash in their deck. This card is a first pick, and can dominate a game if you can get lucky with it. In the worst case, it is still two damage for three mana, and thatís often all you need.

 

Hearth Kami

Well, the Hearth Kami is a pretty good pick for red, finally. A two-power creature for two mana, and an ability that, while not incredibly useful in this format, is not horrible either. If Iím drafting red and need a good two-drop, he is a quick pick and almost always played.

 

Honden of Infinite Rage

I would highly recommend this card. The ability to do one damage a turn during your upkeep is handy indeed, for both creature removal and for wearing down your opponent. The fact that it is an enchantment makes it even better as its less susceptible to all the kill cards a creature must face, and the casting cost for it is more than fair.

 

Initiate of the Blood.

First, let me say that the fact that this card is a 2/2 for four mana almost makes me want to play it. The ping ability of this guy is conditional to the creature receiving damage already, which is not nearly as good as the Frost Wielder. Still, it is a 2/2 and the ability can be of some use. If youíve already drafted a couple of ping cards, pick him up, otherwise pass.

 

Kami of the Fireís Roar

This guy is a 2/3 for four mana, which almost immediately makes me want to play him, considering Redís general quality of creatures. His ability is not bad either, and can even be game winning, letting a critical attack through when you need it. Heís a mid level pick.

 

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

At a triple red casting cost, this guy is almost guaranteed to not make it into your sealed deck unless you can squeeze down to three colors somehow. But in a draft, this guy is a great early pick, letting you copy out a creature for blocking or attacking while never putting this guy in harmís way. While only a 2/2, so quite fragile, when played at the right time he can dominate a game, and I strongly suggest him.

 

Kumano, Master Yamabushi

Ok, so letís compare this guy to the above guy in limited. Same mana cost. Less colored mana, so easier to play in sealed and draft. Kumano is a 4/4 versus a 2/2, making him less fragile. Kumanoís ability can single handedly clear the board slowly but surely. They amazing difference in power and toughness in Redís creature base with similar costs really confuses me, but nonetheless, this guy is a first pick.

 

Kumanoís Pupils

At five mana for a 3/3, the Pupils are just fine as a filler creature. Theyíre not amazing, and Iíd pick a Sokenzan Bruizer over them if both were in the same pack, but they still fill out a deck just fine and are worth picking up.

 

Lava Spike

There is a way to draft an r/b deck with Nuzami Cutthroats and Akki Avalanchers, and some quick burn and evasion cards that this card fits in, but if you are not playing that deck, pass on this incredibly narrow burn spell.

 

Mana Seism

I can think of no limited situation where you would want to use this fixed Squandered Resources.

 

Mindblaze

I saw someone in another article mention that this was a good pick as a sideboard card, where you could find out the bomb they have in game one, then in game two name it, and one, and as long as it wasnít in their hand, it would hit for eight. While I do agree with this, I think itís rather situational, and since it doesnít always hit for eight, I think Iíd rather pick something more reliable.

 

Myojin of Infinite Rage

While I know that the games go long in Champions of Kamigawa, I am unsure that I will ever hit ten mana and be able to cast this guy, this, unless I am drafting by set icon color, I pass this guy. If you are paying R/G with plenty of mana acceleration, heís definitely worth a shot, but other wise, pass.

 

Ore Gorger

If only limited had some non-basic lands I wanted to destroy, Iíd be very happy to play with this guy, but since his ability is virtually worthless, I cannot justify paying five mana for a 3/1. Pass.

 

Pain Kami

One of the reasons I play red is this guy. Heís a nice 2/2 for three mana, and his ability is amazing, being able to kill pretty much any creature in the format. The fact that it does not require tapping makes it even better. Pain Kami is a high to first pick.

 

Ronin Houndmaster

I was a huge fan of Suqata Lancer, and this guy is the new Lancer for Champions. With haste and Bushido, he evens out the tempo game against the other samurai your opponent may play. I rank him as a high to first pick as well.

 

Ryusei, the Falling Star

I know, it seems incredible, but I am giving three red cards in a row a favorable review. Notice how they are all only one colored mana though, again making red the splash color of choice for mana slingers everywhere. As for this creature, thereís not a lot to say, heís a big fat flier, and those can win games.

 

Shimatso the Bloodcloaked

And now, we shall go the opposite end of the spectrum and say that this guy sucks so bad you should never ever play him in any format except for casual. Stay way from this card.

 

Sideswipe

Sideswipe is a trick, and very situational, but when it does go off, it can be devastating. Making someone Pull Under their own creature is normally game over, and thereís several other situations where this card can single handedly win you a game. Still, it is very narrow, and often a card that starts in your sideboard. Pick it up if there are no good creatures to take.

 

Sokenzan Bruiser

Everything I said about the Pupils fits the Bruizer. He fills out the creature curve for red, and on the off chance your opponent plays a mountain, he becomes a pretty fast clock. I normally end up playing this guy, and suggest him.

 

Soul of Magma

Red has several pingers more reliable than this guy, and cheaper. Pass.

 

Soulblast

This is the ultimate ďone ofĒ cards, simply throwing all of your creatures right at your opponents face. If you havenít picked up a couple of ďone ofĒ cards yet, take this.

 

Stone Rain

While Stone Rain shall reign immortal as a consistent and handy card, it has never been a strong limited card unless played on turn three, or in multiples. A late pick at best.

 

Strange Inversion

While the ability to reverse power and toughness is a very neat trick, itís also a very narrow trick. You should always be able to find a better card to pick than this one.

 

Through the Breach

No, thank you. I want my creatures to stay around for more than one turn.

 

Tide of War

Personally I would never play with this card. That being said, I could see this card being quite powerful in the hands of a good player. It throws your opponent off of their game, changing the very rules of combat, and if you can build your deck to support the card, then it can easily bring you victory after victory.

 

Uncontrollable Anger

This is the first card that I wanted to be splashable but wasnít, go figure. While it may seem like a highly overpriced Kodamaís Might, it often doubles a both creature kill and a permanent creature pump. I suggest this card highly if you are playing enough red to support the double red casting cost.

 

Unearthly Blizzard

This is the weakest of the ďone ofĒ cards, but can still be used as a game winner, especially in w/r or g/r decks where all you really need is one last attack.  If you can find a better ďone ofĒ I suggest it, but this is not unplayable.

 

Unnatural Speed

While incredibly cheap, the inability to re-use this ability makes it a card simply not worth the cost or cards slot. I think it was a grave mistake not making this card a splice card, as it makes it useless for limited and constructed.

 

Yamabushiís Flame

The Flame is in some ways better than Glacial Ray, being ably to kill the three toughness creatures, but lacking in reusability. Flame is a first pick whether playing red or not, as its so easily splashable, I strongly suggest it.

 

Yamabushiís Storm

This card is receiving a lot of praise because of the large amounts of one toughness creatures in this format. While I agree with this, I donít know if the card is truly main deck material, as quite often its worse for you to cast it than not, and some decks simply donít care about it. Pick it up late if you can, and put it in your sideboard, but donít value it too highly.

 

Zo-Zu the Punisher

I mentioned something earlier in Card of the Day about how much I hated this card simply because of the complete lack of fun this card inspires, but that being said, if you are drafting the r/b speed weenie deck I discussed earlier, this card is a first pick, hampering your opponentís mana development, and often getting in the final couple of points for the win.

 

Next week we get to my favorite color in Champions: Green. Mana Development, big creatures, card search, combat tricks, recursion, green has everything your mana slinging self desires. Tune in next week for it!

 

 

 

 

 

E-mail me at rayp-at-primenet.com.

 

 

 

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