Core Set 2021 Limited Set Review – Red

Limited_Red

Red is packing heat in Core Set 2021. With its scorching removal spells and lightning fast threats curving into powerful Dragons, Red has a plethora of tools to damage its foes.

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Drifter

I’ve been enthralled by Limited ever since I began in New Phyrexia. With a particular fondness for flashback and cube drafts, I’ve drafted more sets than I can count on every platform through wildly different eras. On Arena I draft infinitely, having profited 30k or so gems from it at this point, and have made top 100 mythic frequently. Self-reflection and critical analysis are paramount to Limited improvement, and that theme features in many of my articles, and in each session of the Limited coaching service I provide.

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Compulsion

I’ve played Magic off and on for the last 20 years. I just checked to confirm that and it blew my mind a little bit. I started with 6th edition and began playing ‘competitively’ with Odyssey. My handle is actually a really good Limited card from the Odyssey block. Anyway, Magic Arena got me back into the game, and I have been drafting infinitely since closed beta and have finished top 1000 Mythic nearly every ranked season.

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Legend

Battle-Rattle Shaman

Battle-Rattle Shaman

Drifter: C

Battle Rattle Shaman is a card you only want when you’re beating down and are likely to be the aggressor of the matchup (that’s not just Aggro decks; dedicated aggro decks tend to be sort of rare in Limited, but plenty of midrange decks fit these requirements anyway), but it fills that role really well, forcing your opponents to trade up with your small creatures. Unfortunately Red only has one token producer at common/uncommon, and that does hurt quite a lot – Battle Rattle is at its best when you’re forcing your opponent’s real creatures to trade up with creatures you didn’t spend a card on. There also isn’t a card like Sanitarium Skeleton which reanimates itself in Black, and that has been a fantastic synergy in previous sets. Shock and Scorching Dragonfire both at common means having only 2 toughness is going to really hurt in Red mirrors.

All in all, I don’t think this set is that good for Battle-Rattle, but there are enough small fliers running around in other colours that it’s really good with, like Fetid Imp and some of the blues ones, that I consider it a high C.

Compulsion: C+

This Goblin seems pretty good to curve out into in an Aggro deck. You get an immediate buff on one of your early drops and this can attack as a 4/2 in a pinch. I think it’ll end up playing a little worse than it looks, because the creatures receiving the buff need to get through or take down more expensive creatures of your opponent to generate value. You also won’t be able to attack with Battle-Rattle Shaman without trading down in a lot of cases, so this is not a card I would reach for despite the above average rating I am giving due to its upside potential.

Bolt Hound

Bolt Hound

Drifter: C

Not pumping itself doesn’t make this much of a Bolt Hound – it shocks things instead! Luckily, it’s pretty good at that, this is a solid buff to all your other creatures. It’s harder to go wide in this set, as there aren’t many token producers, but this effect can be a powerful one if you’re just curving out. To get clean attacks with the Bolt Hound, you will often need to have removal, since it’s only a 2/2, which can be pretty awkward, so I only have it at C.

If this card buffed itself, it would be amazing.

Compulsion: C+

It looks like we are already establishing a creature buff theme in Red. I like this because even if it gets held up by a good blocker you can save it for a big attack later on after you’ve flooded the board and are ready to go wide.

Bone Pit Brute

Bone Pit Brute

Drifter: C

There are enough small fliers running around in Black, Blue, and White that this should be a really powerful effect – a 4/5 Menace for 5 tends to be a decent statline, and I’m reasonably happy to play 1 mana for this ability on top.

Compulsion: C

‘Welcome to the club’ got a chuckle out of me. I think this is a little too expensive for what you are getting, though. It likely has a place in GR decks due to mana ramp and enabling 4 power, but it isn’t your flashiest 6 mana option.

Brash Taunter

Brash Taunter

Drifter: A

Stuffy Doll is back and this time, it’s a ridiculous bomb – you can’t attack into this Goblin with anything on the ground, if you don’t want to take a lot of damage back and, at each end of turn, it burns you for like 4 or 5 damage. In some spots, you won’t even be able to play big creatures while this is out! I’ve left it at A because, while it still dodges most removal spells for free, the set does have a higher than usual density of removal that can hit it, between Grasp of Darkness, Secure the Scene, Pestilent Haze, Soul Sear etc, and if your opponent has flying creatures then it gets a lot worse. This is one of the few times you may want to use combat tricks on your opponents’ creatures!

Compulsion: B+

This is going to be pretty brutal to play against. It makes non flying attacks painful for your opponent while putting them on a clock. Five mana could prove too much for some Red decks, but this is another card that should shine when paired with Green.

Burn Bright

Burn Bright

Drifter: D-

There aren’t very many tokens in this set, which makes this sort of effect a lot less exciting. You can play this in your regular aggro decks, but it will often do nothing – the problem is that if you’re trading 1 for 1 a bunch, then this won’t help you at all – you’re each spending real cards on your creatures but then you’re just down a card from casting Burn Bright. You might think that this card goes well with Goblin Wizardry, but the decks that can support Goblin Wizardry (since it’s not a great card by itself) have to have a lot of spells so they won’t have that many creatures to go wide, so this card will still be bad in them.

Compulsion: D

This warcry effect gets printed a lot and is generally bad. I could imagine it being a decent one-of in decks going very wide, though. I would much rather get a similar effect from something like Bolt Hound and have a creature to go with it.

Chandra, Heart of Fire

Chandra, Heart of Fire

Drifter: A+

These plus abilities are both amazing, this card starts at 6 loyalty, ensures you don’t run out of gas… The power of +ing with a removal effect cannot be overstated either – Chandra ramps up to her ultimate while protecting herself, which is absurd. The two abilities can be less impactful when you have cards in hand and they don’t have x/2 creatures in play, but you can still attack your stuff in and force them to run into it. This card is an incredible bomb.

Compulsion: A+

Chandra, Heart of Fire is looking really good for Limited. She doesn’t completely take over the game, but casting Shock every turn or up to three spells when you run out of relevant cards in hand are plenty good returns on your five mana investment.

Chandra’s Incinerator

Chandra's Incinerator

Drifter: B-

Colossal Dreadmaw is back with a vengeance and a new coat of paint! This card works extremely well with Chandra’s Magmutt, being playable for 5 mana with that card, and allowing you to ping their creatures afterwards, and Shock is at common in the set, though Shock isn’t actually that exciting after this is already out – dealing 2 to them is not that exciting as upside.

Compulsion: B+

Chandra’s Incinerator is quite nice as well, likely costing five or less mana and generating bonus damage for doing things you already want to be doing. This is a fantastic reason to play Red and pick up some noncombat damage enablers.

Chandra’s Magmutt

Chandra's Magmutt

Drifter: C+

I’m pretty excited – this is a 2 mana 2/2 that stays relevant throughout the game, has combos with Chandra’s Pyreling (although that is the only “noncombat damage” matters card at common or uncommon), and provides some much-needed reach after your opponent has stabilised. The card also combines really well; you’ll probably be happy to have 4 or 5 of these, since the threat of dealing 2 damage per attack persists so your opponents still have to leave back blockers often.

Compulsion: C+

Speaking of noncombat damage enablers, this one is serviceable enough. It does the Grizzly Bear thing early and then starts pinging. I would want to have a few payoffs for the ability before I got too excited about drafting them, though.

Chandra’s Pyreling

Chandra’s Pyreling

Drifter: B-

The threat of activation is a huge deal with this, much like Prickly Marmoset; you do need to actually have cards like Shock or Chandra’s Magmutt to propel it to greatness so it is definitely harder to actually activate than the Marmoset, but those should still be easy enough to pick up.

Compulsion: B

Chandra is really on fire in this set. The Pyreling becomes an outsized threat as far as two drops go, provided you have several ways to trigger it.

Conspicuous Snoop

Conspicuous Snoop

Drifter: D-

The only Goblins at common or uncommon are Goblin Arsonist and Battle-Rattle Shaman, and I don’t think those are really enough for this card to be great. Goblin Wizardry doesn’t count as a Goblin Spell; we are not in Lorwyn block where there were Tribal cards. This is usually a vanilla 2/2 that’s hard to cast, and gives your opponents free information – it is way worse for you that your opponent sees the top card of your library. You can play it if you have 5 or 6 Arsonists/Battle-Rattles, but otherwise I would stay away.

Compulsion: D

There aren’t enough Goblins for this to be better than a somewhat difficult to cast on curve Bear. I think if you are passed this early enough and already have some Red cards it might be worth drafting a few more Goblins and running it, but this is not an exciting rare to open. Possibly the worst part is your opponent sees your cards, so unless you are hitting free Goblins the ability is all downside.

Crash Through

Crash Through

Drifter: D+

This is a free card but you don’t get much out of it if you don’t have a bunch of Spellgorger Weirds or Prowess creatures, and there aren’t that many good Prowess creatures – check out this list. Red has no good commons with Prowess; and Blue only has one; I don’t consider Goblin Wizardry very good, though if you have a couple of this card alongside a lot of other spells, then that can be a good reason to have that card in your deck. I leave this at D+ because I do think any deck with a few Spellgorger Weirds will be reasonably happy to have it, since the cost of playing it isn’t huge.

Compulsion: C-

Yeah it is sort of a free card, but you are also not getting much out of it. If you are UR and care a lot about Instants/Sorceries this becomes playable filler.

Destructive Tampering

Destructive Tampering

Drifter: D-

A few decks will want this for reach purposes, but really you can do better, especially with a bunch of commons that deal noncombat damage anyway. There aren’t enough artifacts in the set to make it worth maindecking, but you can board it in sometimes.

Compulsion: D-

It is fine to have in your sideboard, but Artifacts aren’t prominent enough in M21 to main deck this.

Double Vision

Double Vision

Drifter: D+

If you happen to have really a ton of instants and sorceries that work with this, so not counterspells, then you can play it and it will actually be very good, but that describes far too few decks in the set – it is not easy to get minimum 10-12 decent targets for this, and you want to copy around 3 spells per game before you’re happy. Still, in a really well-positioned deck, like a Rakdos Control deck or Izzet spells, this will be more like a B-, but I still wouldn’t take it beyond like a D+ early on.

Compulsion: D+

I am seeing two visions of how this could go. On one hand the ability triggers for free, so all of your spells get doubled. in a UR deck if you are able to save one draw spell and double it, things could really snowball from there. On the other hand, 5 mana Enchantments that don’t pay off right away are unplayable in most formats. I am open to trying this out but I am afraid the format is going to be too quick for it.

Fiery Emancipation

Fiery Emancipation

Drifter: A-

If you have a lot of creatures and specifically noncombat sources of damage, this card is very good – even random fliers will suddenly deal crazy amounts of damage. You do need really a lot of decent damage sources, but most Red decks should be able to make that happen. If you have just a 2/2 and a 3/3 unblocked for one turn on the board, that’s already 15 damage, and your Chandra’s Magmutts deal 3 damage per activation. The issue is if all your stuff is trading anyway, this will sometimes be a 6 mana do-nothing, but that’s easy to avoid with reasonable deck construction.

Compulsion: B-

Oh good, another expensive Enchantment to try and rate. There’s no way around it, tripling all of your damage is a really flashy way to win. But in playing this you have one fewer source of damage to trigger it. It doesn’t ensure victory even if you have creatures, as they can be traded unless you have Trample or First Strike. I would try this in RG as you can ramp into it and despite the mana cost the source is not color specific.

Furious Rise

Furious Rise

Drifter: B-

There are three commons with 4 or more power in Red, and more than usual in the set overall. In the right colour combination, this can be pretty Gruuling for your opponents, and I was always happy with this card in Theros: Beyond Death, which had fewer 4 power creatures lying around. This is just a tremendous amount of value that’s hard to interact with, although it is true that White has a good way to get rid of Enchantments this set.

Compulsion: B-

Furious Rise is a more reasonable Enchantment than the prior two because it can be played earlier and payoff more often. Your deck must have several 4/X creatures before considering running this, though. I also suspect this will be a little worse in M21 than Theros: Beyond Death, where the 4-Power matters theme came through really strongly.

Furor of the Bitten

Furor of the Bitten

Drifter: D+

You can put Furor on your opponent’s creatures to eat them, and +2/+2 for 1 mana is an efficient rate in your beatdown decks, but I’m still not all that interested – this is a set with plenty of common removal.

Compulsion: D+

There may end up being a super low curve Aggro deck that runs this, similar to how Maniacal Rage saw some play back in Guilds of Ravnica. I am not seeing the other tools here that Boros had in that set (such as Mentor and Healer’s Hawk), so I am more skeptical of it working this time.

Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge

Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge

Drifter: A-

Even if this doesn’t get to attack, it’s an amazing blocker with a very relevant ability, and eventually it should get to attack, at which point it’s busted. Whether it attacks or ramps/fixes you, you’re getting a good deal – there’s some weird things you can do like chump attack with a small creature to try to fix your splash card, which will really leave your opponents guessing as to whether they should block.

Compulsion: A-

Even if Gadrak has to sit around and guard its Treasure for a little while, a 5/4 Flying wall is more than a little annoying for your opponent. Even in Aggro decks this seems good because creatures will be dying at a faster pace, waking the Dragon early enough to swoop in as a finisher.

Goblin Arsonist

Goblin Arsonist

Drifter: D+

There are an unusual number of x/1s in this set, but the base case for this just isn’t good enough to propel it to the C range I think – trading with a 2/2 really isn’t that exciting, and this doesn’t actually enhance the beat down plan all that well. Sometimes if you have a few Battle-Rattle Shamans, this can be a decent inclusion, but I think you do want some kind of synergy before this is a card you’re happy to have in your deck.

It is great with Alchemist’s Gift, since you get to kill two creatures, but both of those cards are mediocre by themselves so don’t go for that combo too often unless you have other good reasons to have these cards in your deck!

Compulsion: C

This is an unusually solid 1 mana 1/1 because it trades with X/2’s and there are plenty of X/1’s in the set to Sacrifice it and snipe if you are playing BR.

Goblin Wizardry

Goblin Wizardry

Drifter: D

This card is a pretty horrible rate, and I don’t think prowess does enough to save it unless you have really a ton of cheap instants and sorceries – if you can get these to hit for 3 consistently the tun after they come out, then maybe you can consider it, but that takes like 10-12 instants/sorceries to do. In the right deck, this will be a decent card, but the ceiling still isn’t that high.

Compulsion: D+

I can imagine a deck where you are casting things like Crash Through to buff these tokens up to 4/4 Trample or so. Even so, I don’t think Prowess is strong enough to justify building a deck like that, but time will tell.

Havoc Jester

Havoc Jester

Drifter: B-

This is an extremely good rate for a card, and there are enough sacrifice effects to make this ability really good in Rakdos. It’s not particularly good without Black, since the only card it combos with in Red is Hobblefiend, but that card is decent by itself and this is a lot of upside on it, and getting a free ping out of Heartfire Immolator if you happen to see that uncommon is nice upside too.

Compulsion: B-

Havoc Jester checks the boxes for both the Sacrifice and 4+ Power themes. 5 mana for a 5/5 is above average so I would imagine this easily slots into almost any Red deck.

Heartfire Immolator

Heartfire Immolator

Drifter: B

You can pretty reasonably kill a 3-4 mana creature with this, after having dealt 4-6 damage, and that’s just crazy! The base case is really good and the ceiling is really high; I suspect this is the best 2 drop at common or uncommon in the entire format.

Compulsion: B

Ember Hauler was already good and this guy is even better! This is the type of 2/2 that scales really well into the later game, eventually removing something with as much as 4 toughness. This is a B+ if you are in the noncreature spell archetype and at worst a B- even if your deck is highly unlikely to trigger Prowess.

Hellkite Punisher

Hellkite Punisher

Drifter: B-

This is a powerful card, well worth 7 mana – it threatens to attack for minimum 8 the turn after it comes out, and has a great statline for blocking anything at all. Most decks in Draft tend to be some flavour of midrange, not especially aggressive, and that goes for most Red decks too – it’s not that common for them to play like 15 lands, have mostly 1-3 drops and burn spells, because it’s just difficult to construct that; even 16 lands, curve ends at 5 is not most of them. If you’re playing 17 lands in any Red deck, I think this will be your 7 drop of choice if you can get it – it even outdoes the Blue 7 drops, which are also really powerful. If this were a Blue or Green card, setting aside obvious colour pie issues, it would be more like a B, but I have knocked it a bit for being in the most aggressive colour.

If the format ends up on the slower side, I may raise this to B, and if Red is exceptionally aggressive, I could see lowering it to C+, but I don’t see it being lower than that.

Compulsion: C+

The cost makes this prohibitive for most Red decks, but if you are Green enough to cast it the payoff is excellent. If Hellkite Punisher goes unblocked the game is likely over.

Hobblefiend

Hobblefiend

Drifter: C

This card makes all of your opponents’ removal spells worse freely, and is a pretty good rate; threat of activation once you have a counter on this becomes a pretty big deal since you just threaten to trade up your creatures. That being said, I’m a little less excited for this because the set doesn’t have many tokens so you’re mostly sacrificing good cards; this is an okay reason to have Goblin Arsonist in your deck, for example, but I would need more than one copy or other reasons before I was happy.

I don’t think this card actually benefits that much from Black, since Black has sacrifice enablers but not very many payoffs, and it doesn’t provide very much fodder either; I think Rakdos Sacrifice won’t be a deck in this format so much as sacrifice synergies being in Red and Black decks.

Compulsion: C+

This common gets a bump up from C because it seems important for the Sacrifice deck and gives you a decent payoff while enabling the synergy. In go-wide decks this is a fine playable, C/C+. In a midrange deck this is just filler, C/C-.

Igneous Cur

Igneous Cur

Drifter: D+

The base rate on this card is pretty unexciting, because it still just trades for a 2 drop mostly. Tibalt’s Rager was this but had a free ping on death, which made it far better. Alpine Houndmaster is a good reason to play this card but that’s one Uncommon and requires you to be Boros, so I wouldn’t take this card highly unless you already have it – though you can take it at like C+ if you do have it, although it’s still not great when you draw it before Houndmaster.

Compulsion: C

Igneous Cur is an alright 2-drop but its stock goes up if you happen to draft Alpine Houndmaster. The fire breathing ability helps it trade up or sink mana into late game, but the downside is you are only attacking for 1 early on as you establish your board.

Kinetic Augur

Kinetic Augur

Drifter: B-

You probably don’t want to discard good instants/sorceries just to give this 1 power, but that last ability is solid flood protection and this should be at least a 2/4 in a reasonable deck for i on turn 4; you still don’t want to play this unless you have 6 or 7 spells though. Remember to hold lands in your hand if you have this in your deck in topdeck mode!

Compulsion: B-

I like Kinetic Augur for the UR deck. As long as you have enough Instants/Sorceries to get it to 3/4 reliably it is worth it. The rummage ability adds a nice way to counteract flooding or even power itself up if you don’t need the spells.

Onakke Ogre

Onakke Ogre

Drifter: D+

This is a good way to enable Furious Rise and your other 4 power synergies, but a very mediocre card by itself.

Compulsion: D+

3/2’s and 4/2’s are not a good use of three mana and you should try not to play them. If you have accumulated a few 4+ Power payoffs and need some more enabling this can work in a pinch, however.

Pitchburn Devils

Pitchburn Devils

Drifter: B-

This card is an incredibly easy 2 for 1 – trading with an x/3 and then shooting another creature is fantastic, and it can shoot your opponent too!

Compulsion: B-

I like the value here. It is a bit awkward, being at the top end of an Aggro curve yet unable to enable 4-power matters midrange decks. Still, I don’t think either of those decks would mind including Pitchburn Devils as they can trade up, 2-for-1 against smaller creatures, or even provide three ‘reach’ damage to a player in some cases. This is one of the best 5-mana common creatures Red has ever had.

Sanctum of Shattered Heights

Sanctum of Shattered Heights

Drifter: D+

If you get multiple Shrines, this card is amazing – discarding lands to deal 2-3 damage is fantastic, and it helps you ditch multiple copies of Shrines if you’re playing them. That being said, this is pretty poor by itself, since 1 damage won’t kill most things without help, but it can be a useful Sideboard card against decks with lots of x/1s. Like many of the other Shrines, you take it highly when you’re several colours and can support them, but otherwise it’s not at all a high pick.

Compulsion: D+

It is nice to have a way to put excess lands to work, but 1 damage just doesn’t cut it. If I already had Sanctum of Stone Fangs and was in these colors I would probably play it, because finding both would likely be game ending. But the odds of that happening are quite low and drawing this Shrine by itself is going to lead to disappointment. I could see this enabling a 5-color Shrine deck where you can then play multiple copies of all of them, but I highly doubt that will end up being a thing.

Scorching Dragonfire

Scorching Dragonfire

Drifter: B-

Efficient removal that exiles is always great.

Compulsion: B-

This is clean, efficient removal. The Exile component is relevant against several cards to boot.

Shock

Shock

Drifter: B-

Efficient removal that doesn’t exile is always great.

I think this is worse than Scorching Dragonfire (as in Dragonfire is a high B- and Shock is a low), despite going face, because there are far fewer good targets for 2 than 3 damage.

Compulsion: B

I was going back and forth between how to rate this versus Scorching Dragonfire. Ultimately I think both serve the same purpose, but the lower cost and face damage capability of Shock may give it the edge, especially in Aggro decks where it allows you to remove something and still play another 2-drop on your third turn, for example. What do you say about shock? It is a classic Red spell at this point and about as good as we can expect until they decide to reprint Lightning Bolt again.

Soul Sear

Soul Sear

Drifter: B+

Do you have a problem? Do you have 3 mana? You don’t have a problem anymore! Note: Krakens, Whales, and Dragons need not apply.

Compulsion: B+

I guess all of the Red removal had to begin with the letter ‘S’ in this set. Soul Sear is Red’s hardest removal spell, destroying basically everything except the 7-mana creature cycle.

Spellgorger Weird

Spellgorger Weird

Drifter: B-

This card was amazing in WAR; I suspect it’ll be a bit worse here without planeswalkers, but you only need one counter to be getting a good rate and then it’ll stay in play and threaten to get more counters at instant speed, to make their attacks and blocks annoying.

Compulsion: B-

Spellgorger Weird was pretty insane in War of the Spark, and the power level of that set was extremely high. M21 is strong for a Core Set, but is still significantly weaker than WAR. By that logic Spellgorger Weird should be amazing in this set, but it also depends on how good the noncreature spells are. WAR had a lot of really great spells and you were also able to trigger Spellgorger Weird with Planeswalkers, which were quite abundant. M21 seems considerably less stacked in the noncreature spell department, but I think there are still enough of them to make Spellgorger Weird an essential threat in UR decks, which will want as many copies as they can find.

Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner

Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner

Drifter: B

This card combines a decent statline with two great effects, that make it relevant at any point in the game. Obviously, you want some other 2 power creatures with it, but every Limited deck should have plenty of those, and refilling your hand late with this is great.

Compulsion: B

The key ability here is paying 1 to make your 2 power creatures unblockable. In a go wide deck with many low curve threats this is likely going to be one of your best cards. I don’t see this being as appealing to 4-Power matters decks, though. Note there isn’t even any stipulation that its targets need to remain at 2 power. I love how this enables a card like Bolt Hound to attack unchecked and as long as you imbue your other creatures with unblockable before combat they get to keep it, despite the buff. This same principle applies to the smorgasbord of creature buffs available in Red.

Sure Strike

Sure Strike

Drifter: D+

Sure Strike has been a mediocre card in every set it’s been in before, and I don’t expect that to change – the problem, as always, is that instant speed removal will blow you out and you need to hold up the mana at inopportune times.

Compulsion: C-

You could do worse than Sure Strike when it comes to combat tricks. It is fairly easy to turn into direct damage if necessary in go wide decks, and has blowout potential against stack blocks if you are fielding larger creature. Just keep in mind that much of the time you are simply winning a 1-on-1 combat with it, which doesn’t generate any card advantage.

Terror of the Peaks

Terror of the Peaks

Drifter: S

This is the sort of bomb where if they don’t kill it, it just wins the game, and if they do kill it, they’re at least losing 3 life. Even if you topdeck this, it’s a 5/4 flier for 5, which is an absurd rate.

Compulsion: S

This is for sure a must remove Bomb, and even if that happens you come out ahead by 3 life. Ideally you would want to play this in a midrange deck where you actually have high-power creatures to follow up with. Aggro decks are still more than happy to have this at the top of their curve, but the ceiling is lowered in that case.

Thrill of Possibility

Thrill of Possibility

Drifter: C-

Blue has some synergies in draw which you’ll want before you take this card highly; I don’t think there is enough Prowess to really make it worth it. This tends to be an okay filler card to prevent flood but never very exciting.

Compulsion: C-

You aren’t getting any true card advantage out of Thrill of Possibility, but it does help smooth your draws and mitigate mana flooding. There is some decent synergy in UR as well, allowing you to trigger Prowess and/or dump Instant/Sorcery cards into your graveyard at Instant speed. It seems solid in a deck that is into that sort of thing but I would consider it weak filler in anything else.

Traitorous Greed

Traitorous Greed

Drifter: D+

There’s a decent amount of Sacrifice synergy in Rakdos, but you’ll still want 4 or 5 cards minimum that do that. This is a playable card in Rakdos and not really elsewhere, but it can be actively great there since it fixes your mana, and only costs 2 so it’s fairly easy to combine with Sacrifice stuff on the same turn.

Compulsion: C-

There may be a reason Act of Treason was promoted to an Uncommon variant in this set. The classic steal a creature and then sacrifice it trick has quite a few enablers in M21. Getting the two mana helps power up that synergy, but it also prevents you from attacking with the stolen creature if you need that mana to activate your sacrifice effect. It would have been cute to get two treasure tokens instead to address that issue, but maybe that was play tested and ended up being too strong.

Transmogrify

Transmogrify

Drifter: F

This is a card intended for Contsructed; I don’t think a Limited deck can consistently make this have a good enough effect for 4 mana.

Compulsion: F

This is one of those combo cards where you exile a goat token and go ‘oops the only creatures in my deck are Eldrazi.’ Unfortunately it has no place in Limited.

Turn to Slag

Turn to Slag

Drifter: C+

This is reasonable enough removal and there is one good equipment in the set, the uncommon Malefic Scythe (although that card is great).

Compulsion: C

This is a playable removal spell, but with other great options like Shock and Scorching Dragonfire at common I could see Turn to Slag being lower in demand.

Turret Ogre

Turret Ogre

Drifter: C+

This card was good in WAR – Reach is very relevant (remember that it has that) and it’s a good way to enable your 4-power synergies while doing some free damage when you have others.

Compulsion: C

Turret Ogre is a fine way to trigger your 4-Power matters cards and sometimes provide an incidental 2 damage. In my experience people forget this card has Reach all the time, so you may also get some occasional freebies.

Unleash Fury

Unleash Fury

Drifter: F

If anyone puts this card in their deck, they’ll unleash my fury! It’s far too situational and weak an effect to be worth playing; this is the worst trick you can have because it’s like a split card between deal 3-4 damage and 2 for 1 yourself to trade with a creature, and both of those effects are really bad in Limited. This all compounds the inherently risky proposition of being a trick and running into instant-speed removal.

Compulsion: D

Unleash Fury is usually going to be worse than providing Double Strike. The only advantage I see is triggering 4-Power matters, but those payoffs generally don’t seem worth spending a card just to activate. The blowout potential is still here though, so be extra careful choosing blockers when your opponent has mountains untapped.

Volcanic Geyser

Volcanic Geyser

Drifter: B

Removal spells that double up as Lava Axes in the late game are great, and this one is instant speed.

Compulsion: B+

I love casting Fireballs. Always have, always will. This time around it costs an extra mana but gains Instant status. That trade-off feels pretty even to me but I am excited to play with it and see how it shakes out.

Volcanic Salvo

Volcanic Salvo

Drifter: A

In the average Limited game, it’s not hard to have 6 power worth of creatures in play, which is the sweet spot for this card – at that point it’s absolutely amazing. If you have it in your deck, do remember not to trade creatures as often as you otherwise might.

Compulsion: A-

I am worried this one may end up being more situational than I am expecting, but it seems reasonable to field at least six power at which point this costs six mana to deal six damage to a pair of creatures. 666, it is now confirmed that Magic: the Gathering is a game of the devil and we should all be going to online church instead of playing it.

Conclusions

Drifter

Red seems like it has a ton of reach this set, which makes for a very solid beatdown colour – many of its cards have late game applications, so you don’t have to win games before your opponents stabilise. Red seems like it can capitalise much better on early pressure than it can in other sets, and therefore convert them into wins much more easily. I don’t think Red actually needs that much specific support this set, because its primary plan and cards are so powerful, but it will lend a lot of power to colours like White, Blue, and Green, which could use better removal options, and in return will give it better aggression with White or some nice Control/spells matters options in Blue, or just some better beatdown creatures in Green. Red being so strong and self-contained means that, if it’s really open, it will be worth just being Mono Red sometimes!

I suspect Red is the strongest it has been in a really long time this set; it’s had some iffy sets of late, but it will dominate many of the other strategies in this one, though there is more lifegain running around to counteract its burn at least.

Compulsion

Red is looking really great in M21. It has solid creatures throughout the curve, and two really important utility spells at common (Shock and Scorching Dragonfire). UR is looking like a natural pairing, with its noncreature spell and noncombat damage themes along with nice tempo options. Big Red is also well supported, likely adding Green to support its 4+ Power matters theme. Finally, White go-wide and Black Sacrifice decks will both look to include Red as well. At this point Red is looking like the color with the highest base power level, and I would expect it to be very popular among drafters. I would look for signals in what kind of Red cards are going around, since many of them are very powerful in specific archetypes but mere filler in others. Those signals can provide insight into which archetypes may be open at your table, even if the second color isn’t coming through in that particular pack.

Compulsion

I have been playing MTG for 20 years and am an infinite drafter on Arena. I teach high school chemistry full time and have a two year old daughter.

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Alexandre Barata
Alexandre Barata
3 months ago

The amount of times I’ll lose to Unleash Fury will counter that “F”, unfortunately 😛