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Magic 2019 Standard Set Review: Red

Check out the other entries in the Set Review:

White | Blue | Black

Today it’s going to be as hot in here as it is outside, at least if you live in the states. We’re lighting everything on fire . . .  Everything except Magic cards I guess. Anyway, today we’ll be going over the Red cards from Magic 2019 but before we begin, let’s go over my scale.

I will not be going over cards that I believe will not see play in Standard. For example, cards like Dragon Egg and Gideon's Reproach will be omitted since they are just Limited cards and saying, “This is just a Limited card” repeatedly gets old rather fast. Don’t worry, though, I will be covering all the rare and mythic cards in the 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 given a rating of 1-5. If a card would receive a 0, meaning it will see no play in that format ever, it's 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. (Dubious Challenge)

2 — Could see fringe play, or occasional sideboard card. (Authority of the Consuls)

3 — Commonly played, staple in a single deck, or frequent play in several decks. (Harnessed Lightning, Cast Down)

4 — Format staples. Sees play in multiple decks, one of the best cards in the format. (Heart of Kiran, Abrade, Seal Away)

5 — Format warping. If you’re in these colors, you play that card. (Goblin Chainwhirler, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria)


Alpine Moon
2 — I'd rather just play another Field of Ruin in my sideboard if I'm trying to kill something like Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin. This card is obviously designed for older formats and not so much Standard, unless we get creature lands soon or Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.
Apex of Power
2 — The biggest ritual Magic has ever seen, you can ritual while you ritual as you ritual. Seriously though, just play Omniscience over this card.
2 — In ase Control somehow gets out of hand, we can now close the game out with our sideboard Banefires! If you're ramping, Torment of Hailfire is still better to ramp into.
Dark-Dweller Oracle
2.5 — A decent 2-drop for Red. While it currently has no chance to see play in the current Red decks since it lacks haste, it's still an option for some sort of goblin deck.
Demanding Dragon
3 — Competes with Glorybringer but man is this Dragon great against an empty battlefield, it just Lava Axes your opponent's face. It also does great in the air against Glorybringer, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, and Rekindling Phoenix.
Dismissive Pyromancer
2 — Maybe in some sort of reanimator strategy after you already have your Tormenting Voice/Cathartic Reunion? I'm just not really seeing a home or a deck that wants this card.
2Doublecasting with The Mirari Conjecture is going to be spicy! I like how you can't get two-for-oned like you could with Fork, since your opponent could just counter the spell Fork was targeting. Doublecasting Nexus of Fate is also spicy. I'm sure I'll try that at some point.
Goblin Trashmaster
2 — A decent Sideboard card if goblins becomes a deck and we can artifacts that you need to destroy. Even then though, isn't Abrade just enough?
2.5 — This card is kind of like a storm card. It's so scary to have your opponent untap with a Guttersnipe. Guttersnipe turns Shocks and Lightning Strike to lethal spells real quick!
Lathliss, Dragon Queen
2 — Too expensive, just play more Glorybringer or Demanding Dragon.
Lightning Mare
2.5 — Better keep control decks in check, Lightning Mare is an excellent Sideboard card against Blue decks, he's one of the better horses in this cycle.
Sarkhan, Fireblood
3 — I believe Sarkhan is being underrated. 2 mana every turn is a lot of extra mana for a small investment. I would like to play a dragon tribal deck with 4 Sarkhans and 4 Dragon's Hoard. Might need to wait for Abrade to leave before we can play 4 Dragon's Hoard but I think we can have a Dragon deck after that. We don't need to be all in on Dragons but just have a handful of them.
Sarkhan's Unsealing
2 — Doesn't do anything the turn you play it and afterward you need to play expensive creatures to trigger it. It's just too slow in my opinion.
Spit Flame
2.5 — An instant speed Cut that you can buyback whenever you play a Dragon. It's a bit expensive but this would be great in the Dragon deck.
2 — A cheaper Fling for decks that try to just make a huge creature and then throw it at your opponent's face. Electrostatic Pummeler is what I'm thinking.
Volley Veteran
2.5 — A great card alongside Siege-Gang Commander or Goblin Warchief. Dealing a ton of damage to your opponent and being able to swing the same turn will quickly close any game out.

Top 5 Red Cards

  1. Demanding Dragon
  2. Sarkhan, Fireblood
  3. Guttersnipe
  4. Spit Flame
  5. Volley Veteran

Red cards are the weakest we’ve seen so far in M19. After Demanding Dragon things get worse very fast. This gives me hope that when Amonkhet block rotates that Red Deck Wins will lose some of its fiery grasp on Standard. I really hope this is the case.

Tomorrow is going to be a big day, you won’t want to miss it. We’ll be going over all the Green cards and everything else!

Until then,

Ali Aintrazi

Follow me @AliEldrazi

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Magic Core Set 2019 is available for Preorder!