Hello awesome reader! Happy Friday to you! I am out on vacation this week, so I wrote up this fun article prior to heading out. Today I wanted to countdown the best Red card draw effects ever printed for casual formats like Commander, Five Color, multiplayer, and Highlander, but not Type Four since infinite mana means very different things there.
Note that I am using the descriptor of "card flow" for Red rather than "card draw" since this color doesn't just draw cards in mass, like blue's Concentrate or black's Ancient Craving. Instead, it's more limited.
You will typically find one of three categories on today's list:
- Impulsive Card Flow: This effect, named after Act on Impulse, exiles one or more cards from your library and then you have a limited window to cast/play them typically the end of this turn or the next turn of yours. Some players don't like this category since they exile their stuff cand cannot tutor or recur it later.
- Rummaging: This effect, named after Rummaging Goblin, lets you discard a card to draw that many cards. Note this effect on permanents, like the Goblin, typically discard and then draws the same amount, but on spells you typically discard one less than you draw since the spell counts itself as a card, so a sorcery might discard one to draw two. This is great at setting up fun graveyard stuff, later, or you just discard lands after your mana is set.
- Wheels: Named after the iconic Wheel of Fortune, this discards your hand and then draws seven. This usually works on others. It's a key part of Red card flow, and there are entire Commander brews built around Wheels.
Ready for my Top Ten? By the by, this list only includes mono-Red options, not combined with other colors. Also, we have three card flow options that are not in the above three sub-genres.
Honorable Mention #1 (#14 Overall) - Skyline Despot
This seven-drop 5/5 Dragon with flying is our first Honorable Mention of today! When it ETBs, you become the Monarch. That means you'll draw EOT if you are the Monarch, so this will release itself and the others can attack and deal damage and steal the Monarchy from you and draw EOT, but they will need to get past a 5/5 flyer to do so. If they do, just attack back and steal it and then keep drawing. Also note that if you remain the Monarch in your upkeep for a round of turns, you'll make a free 5/5 flying Dragon token. This has great synergy with a few styles of builds, and is castable with the mass Treasures it makes. Then it works in a few builds - the first is Dragons. Since it is a Dragon and since it makes Dragons, that's an easy add for the most popular Tribal brew out there. Then this fits into Monarch brews too like Marchesa. I prefer Monarch cards to the other options since this is pure card draw.
Honorable Mention #2 (#13. Overall) - Chandra, Fire Artisan
Did you know that Chandra debuted the Impulse card flow with Chandra, Pyromaster? This is the best new version since her exile is a +1 rather than a 0. This is the best impulsive card flow since she's cheap at four mana, arrives with four loyalty, and then +1s for card flow. Those that dig more or are also +s cost more to drop than this simple rare with the three abilities. She can also shoot stuff when loyalty counters are pulled or -7 to dig seven.
Honorable Mention #3 (#12 Overall) - The Courts
This pair of Monarch-making Red cards in their cycle hit next! They give you Monarch and then one ability in your upkeep which is enhanced if you are the Monarch. The Embereth one costs four, and then in your upkeep you make a 3/1 which is a Knight. Then if you are a Monarch? You deal damage equal to your creature count to each foe. Nasty in aggro, going wide, tokens and more. I love it in mono-Red with the Goblin token making machine of Krenko. The Ire Court costs five and in your upkeep will Shock any target and if you are the Monarch? 7 damage instead! That's a player kill, creature kill and planeswalker kill in one card! They are better than Scion since they are harder to answer and then cheaper and then they always will trigger even when your Monarchy has been taken away. Nasty pair together!
Honorable Mention #4 (#11. Overall) - Inspired Tinkering
Our final Honorable Mention is this fun five-cost sorcery. This impulsively draws you three and then you can cast until your next turn. Then you make three Treasures to cast them. That Treasure making is why they are so strong to my mind! Love this thing loads, and it's great with Treasure matters brews like winning with Revel in Riches, and Treasure is the second most played archetype in Commander after artifacts. It's awesome there or with other artifact-matters. It's just so good and if you cast/play all three spells/lands then this was an Ancestral Recall of card flow for you! Now let's turn to my Top Ten Proper with another legendary permanent, but this time a creature!
#10. Urabrask, Heretic Praetor
Everyone's least favorite Praetor, since they actually are fair, just giving your team haste and tapping your foes, not something abusive. The new version also costs five for a 4/4 with haste. In your upkeep, you get one free impulse effect but cannot wait until a future turn to cast it, but you didn't spend any mana so you should have everything mana wise to cast it. Then next we have your foe's exiling the top card of their library instead of their regular card flow and also have to cast it this turn so it might not ever hurt them if it's castable and not a reaction like Counterspell. That's meaner than the first Urabrask in multiplayer.
#9. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
The ubiquitous three-drop so good in Standard it was banned! This is just so strong at all of the things, even outside of Standard let's look at this Saga! On the first chapter, you make a 2/2 Goblin and Shaman dork and when it attacks, you ramp by a Treasure token. Note that it's a Goblin for that type in Goblin Matters brews on Commander which are very poplar like Goblin tokens. And it's a token for Boros Tokens for those that care. And it's ramp too.
Then on the second Chapter, you can discard up to two cards and draw that many. Note that's a may effect, you don't have to. Discard your lands when set and draw goods or expensive things that you cannot cast or dig to find answers like Chaos Warp. Then you turn it into Reflection of Kiki-Jiki on the third Chapter. You netted two 2/2 Goblins as well, for that creature type. Then you can tap this for one mana to make a token of another nonlegendary dork you control with haste that gets sacrificed at the end of the turn. That's double ETB abilities in your color like Flametongue Kavu or Goblin token maker Beetleback Chief. Or next door in Rakdos with Ravenous Chupacabra or Gruul with Eternal Witness. There's nothing this splashable three-drop won't do - make a token, ramp with Treasures, card flow, and make powerful copy makers. It's just worth the play in most Red decks!
#8. Wrenn's Resolve AND Reckless Impulse
This common pair is one of our highest charting Impulsive card flow. They exile two, you have until next turn to cast them, and you only spent two mana so you can easily use your mana for casting. They are the heavily played Sign in Blood effects of this ability in Red. They are just so reliable! Get your Impulsive card flow here! This pair are the penultimate Impulsive card flow spot, but what hits more than these classics?
#7. Jaya Ballard
Hitting here is this five-drop very Red planeswalker with an on curve five loyalty. As you can see, she has two +1s. The first is to make triple Red mana but only to cast instant/sorcery stuff. Then her second +1 is to discard up to three and then draw it, so she's card flow of the rummaging kind. And up to three, that can be loads of digging for your consideration. She can ramp and card flow with +1 abilities with an on curve, and her ultimate at eight in a few turns is pretty strong too. She likes Spellslinger decks with her +1 and then her card flow can slip into many spaces. She is strong! Next up is a creature!
#6. Charming Scoundrel
Heavily played in Standard, she has haste to swing now and a 1/1 body usually, but you have three options when she ETBs. You can put a +1/+1 giving Wicked Role on her or another to increase your damage permanently. You can make a Treasure for ramping. Or you can discard a card and draw, so she's card flow, ramping, or making a Role for pumping your team or her. That trio of options makes her very strong with those three options since you want flexibility in your cards equally at the kitchen table and in multiplayer since you never know what you could be playing against.
#5. All Treasure Making Discard to Draw Stuff
There are a huge number of discard one, draw two, and then make Treasure tokens for future ramping and casting things that are great to add to your deck, especially in Highlander formats like Commander where you can run them all in the same deck. They typically cost one or two more than normal, but add Treasures and are worth it. The best two are Big Score and Unexpected Windfall since they are instants so you can cast them EOT, draw two, make two Treasures, untap drop a land you just drew and cast something huge. Nasty pair at instant speed, but they are all worth it. We're all sorceries from here on out.
#4. Reforge the Soul
A five-cost rare sorcery with miracle for two. This is in the Wheel of Fortune style of card draw since everyone and you too will discard their hand and draw seven! Even at five mana it's worth playing and casting. It's so strong at punishing folks that save their hands.
#3. Jeska's Will
If you control your Commander you can do both options! This is Commander Classic is our highest charting impulsive card flow card. Here you exile three and they are playable just on your turn, but that ability to make mana equal to the card count in your foe's hand can help you with that this turn. That combination of mana and cards makes this an absolute classic card. It's so good! Hitting at our penultimate spot next is a one cost, but which one cost beats out this absolute barn stormer?
#2. Faithless Looting
Welcome to the second to last spot and our final common! This one cost sorcery has flashback for three so it's playable twice, and then it's a great first turn play, second-turn ramp or rock like Arcane Signet or Rampant Growth, third turn flashback. This is so good it's been banned in formats. This is one of the three non-Wheel, non-rummaging, non-Impulse I alluded to before, and then those other two were Monarch makers.
This is unique in Red. This loots, not rummages, which is in the title, so you will discard the worse cards in your hand which may be what you drew too. Because this is castable twice, this amazing in Spellslinger builds along Guttersnipe or in brews with discard triggers like Rakdos madness to cast or in recursion brews or flashback brews and so many places. Let's check my math! I create these lists prior to checking their play numbers on EDHREC. How many of this are there? 267,859! What about Jeska's Will? 270,842? So that's a few thousand more, so the Commander community disagrees with me by a bit but I'm sure you can see why I went in this order.
#1. Wheel of Fortune with a Shout Out to Magus of the Wheel
Could anything else other than the restricted in Vintage be here at my top spot? I doubt it! This is the first card flow card ever printed for Red in the first set. Everything else has been compared to this ever since. An entire genre of Archetype on Commander is called "Wheels."
This is on the Reserve List so it's pricey, but it's still massively popular. The idea in Red is to drop your hand as fast as possible and then cast this and lose little maybe one or two cards while your foes are discarding way much more and then you win out in card advantage. Then there are modern Commanders built around Wheels like Nekusar, the Mindrazer. You can get your Rakdos discard triggers to kill with Megrim. It's so awesome! Oh, and a shout out to Magus of the Wheel which was my #13 initially but had to get pulled off in the numbers, sorry!
And there we are! I hope that you enjoyed this look at a Top Ten Red Card Flow of All Time!