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Zendikar Standard Set Review: Red and Artifacts


Check out the other entries here!

White | Blue | Black and Gold | Green and Lands

Yesterday we went over the Black and Multicolored cards from Zendikar Rising and we had quite a few great ones. Today we will be going over the Red and artifact cards, but before we begin, let us go over my grating scale.

I will not be going over cards that I believe will not see play in Standard and I will not be going over the Commander cards that will not see Standard play. For example, cards like Paired Tactician and Emeria Captain will be omitted since they are just Limited cards and saying, "This is just a Limited card" repeatedly gets old rather fast. Do not worry though, I will be covering all the rare and mythic cards in the actual Zendikar Rising set. So, if you like a certain rare or mythic, it will be mentioned in the review.

Keep in mind I'm rating all these cards for Standard playability. I will mention Modern applications if I believe the card has some.

Each card will be listed by color, then alphabetically by name.

Each card will be given a rating of 1-5. If a card would receive a 0, meaning it will see no play in that format ever, its rating is left off the list.

Rating | Explanation | Standard Examples

0 - Will never see play in this format (0 ratings are not listed).

1 - Unlikely to see play. (Pursued Whale)

2 - Could see fringe play, or occasional sideboard card. (Squad Commander)

3 - Commonly played, staple in a single deck, or frequent play in several decks. (Angel of Destiny, Skyclave Apparition, Terror of the Peaks)

4 - Format staples. Sees play in multiple decks, one of the best cards in the format. (Emeria's Call, Teferi, Master of Time, Fabled Passage)

5 - Format warping. If you are in these colors, you play that card or keep that card in mind when building decks. (Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon)

Now that we have that out of the way, let's begin!


Akoum Hellhound
Akoum Hellhound - 3.5 - Red Steppe Lynx, great for aggressive Landfall decks and midrange Landfall decks. Looks great alongside Brushfire Elemental!
Cinderclasm - 2.5 - Sideboard staple for sure! It is like Volcanic Fallout and Pyroclasm had a baby and Cinderclasm is the result. Cinderclasm will be an excellent way to clear the board of X/1 and X/2 creatures. Love that it kills Lotus Cobra early enough.
Cleansing Wildfire
Cleansing Wildfire - 2.5 - Mostly a Sideboard card but you can do silly things with it to trigger Landfall. You can also combo it with Confounding Conundrum if you have another way to make your opponent get a land out of their deck, like say Field of Ruin.
Fireblade Charger
Fireblade Charger - 3 - If there is a Boros equipment deck, then Fireblade Charger will be an auto include as it is an excellent creature to pick things up such as Maul of the Skyclaves. Just have a hard time believing it will be better than just Mono Red Embercleave.
Kargan Intimidator
Kargan Intimidator - 4 - Red aggressive card staple. Excellent body with an excellent mana sink. Just an extremely versatile and powerful aggressive creature.
Leyline Tyrant
Leyline Tyrant - 3 - Now this is a dragon I can get behind! I miss being able to play Big Mono-Red decks and Leyline Tyrant is one huge addition to that archetype by helping you ramp and just killing your opponent late game if you have enough mana laying around. A super sweet card!
Magmatic Channeler
Magmatic Channeler - 3.5 - 2 mana 4/4 is great on its own and it also has an upside in that it can help you loot away bad cards for new ones. I am a fan of this card, especially in a ur Tempo / Prowess shell.
Moraug, Fury of Akoum
Moraug, Fury of Akoum - 3 - Do not expect to live long after Moraug enters the battlefield, you might even be dead that turn, especially if Moraug was hit off a Genesis Ultimatum. The landfall triggers stack, so things like Fabled Passage or Migration Path that put multiple lands onto the battlefield will give you multiple attack steps and quickly end your opponent.
Nahiri's Lithoforming
Nahiri's Lithoforming - 2.5 - An amazing way to trigger landfall multiple times if that is what you are looking to do. You will really want a deck dedicated to landfall in order to use this card to its full potential.
Relic Robber
Relic Robber - 2 - This card is sweet, if it were not for the presence of sacrifice decks, it could easily be a main deck card. Shocking your opponent every turn quickly adds up. I do think this is a great card in the Sideboard against creaturless decks. As you will want Relic Robber to connect over and over.
Roil Eruption
Roil Eruption - 3 - Burst Lightning now looks like this. Feel old yet? Also reminds me of Volcanic Hammer but with upside, and because of that upside some decks will play this card. I like it in aggressive decks and big Red decks.
Roiling Vortex
Roiling Vortex - 2.5 - Roiling Vortex is a great way to punish Fires of Invention Decks trying to cast free spells, right now that is not that great in Standard, however the damage every turn and stopping your opponent from gaining life is solid. This makes Roiling Vortex an excellent Sideboard card.
Shatterskull Charger
Shatterskull Charger - 3 - A creature with pseudo Dash. Being able to return Shatterskull Charger to your hand is usually a benefit against control decks as it helps you dodge a board wipe. Card is solid in an aggressive shell.
Thundering Rebuke
Thundering Rebuke - 2.5 - Hits planeswalkers and kills Omnath, just wish it were instant instead or at least exiled. It is what we have, and it should see some play.
Valakut Exploration
Valakut Exploration - 2.5 - Valakut Exploration seems like a better Sideboard card then a main deck one, just because most Standard games are not grindy. It is usually just decks trying to play haymakers that win the game on the spot or soon after. This card only really shines in an attrition matchup, like control. I do not think the damage clause matters much here because Standard has so much incidental life gain to offset the damage that would be dealt by Valakut Exploration.
Wayward Guide-Beast
Wayward Guide-Beast - 2 - An amazing 1-drop creature that you will not want to play until turn three and even then, you do not want multiples of it. This makes it not a 1-drop... Or just a Mono-Red 1-drop with Defender and Haste. What is this card even?! I am not a fan, only home I can see is an rg landfall deck where you play one or two of these in your deck in order to trigger landfall every turn. Even then it just seems bad since you will want to hold onto the land anyway for next turn.

Akoum Warrior
Akoum Warrior - 1 - This one is way too expensive. Much better as a Limited card than a Constructed one.
Kazuul's Fury
Kazuul's Fury - 3 - I really like Kazuul's Fury in ramp decks that also run either Beanstalk Giant or Radha, Heart of Keld as a nice finisher that can also just be a land.
Shatterskull Smashing
Shatterskull Smashing - 4 - Extremely versatile and powerful card for all kinds of Red decks. Late game killing any two creatures or planeswalkers while being an untapped land early game. I am not a huge Red fun but absolutely love this card.
Song-Mad Treachery
Song-Mad Treachery - 2 - Five-mana Act of Treason is extremely expensive. The only deck that might want this is either a Sacrifice deck or a midrange deck. Even then I would not play more than one.
Spikefield Hazard
Spikefield Hazard - 4 - Spikefield Hazard is an extremely good flip card. It tags Uro on the way down to exile it and hits Lotus Cobra on the play or on the draw. It is also good against aggressive strategies. Will be a staple of the format for sure.
Valakut Awakening
Valakut Awakening - 2.5 - A nice way for Red decks to sculpt their hands mid to late game, while also being a land drop early. This card will be much better in Red midrange decks instead of aggressive ones as aggressive decks do not really want a tapped land early.

Top 5 Red Cards

  1. Spikefield Hazard
  2. Shaterskull Smashing
  3. Kargan Intimidator
  4. Magmatic Channeler
  5. Roil Eruption

The tradition of two spell lands being in the top five continues. These flip lands are bound to make an impact on Magic forever, making games go longer and have a bit less variance. I love them and hope Wizards continues to print more. Red got some goodies here for aggressive, midrange, tempo, and even control strategies. Let us move on to the Artifact cards.


Forsaken Monument
Forsaken Monument - 3 - This is an extremely powerful card that we will need to keep an eye on if we ever hit an artifact set. It is basically a powered up Mirari's Wake, and Mirari's Wake is already an immensely powerful card. Not so good at this moment but one to keep an eye on as more sets come in.
Lithoform Engine
Lithoform Engine - 2.5 - Sweet for Commander but honestly costs a bit much for Standard. The only way this sees Standard play is if all the best decks are just durdle decks and everyone is trying to go over the top of everyone else.
Myriad Construct
Myriad Construct - 2 - Much more powerful as a general death trigger, but it is not, it needs to be targeted. Because of this I do not think Myriad Construct will see competitive Standard play.
Skyclave Relic
Skyclave Relic - 2.5 - Strictly better than Darksteel Ingot! I like how you can play it early as a three-mana mana-rock or later in the game as a Gilded Lotus, a Gilded Lotus that also survives Ondu Inversion and the like.

Not going to do a top five for artifacts since we only have four but Forsaken Monument is the one I am most intrigued about and one I look forward to messing with in Standard and Historic! That's it for today!

Tomorrow we will be wrapping up with the Green and Land cards, so make sure to tune in!

As always, thanks for reading,

Ali Aintrazi

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