Latest Update
13 December, 2006

Timespiral – “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.” - Red
By Dr. Chunk


It has been a busy few weeks here in Chunk Towers,

What with worlds, exams and starting a new job there has been little time to get down to the dirty business of Magic. As promised, however, I have completed my musings on red in Timespiral for your entertainment.

…and to those who say I don’t know what I am talking about I say to you: “19-3”

Ætherflame Wall – A very defensive creature (surprising for a wall) in a generally aggressive colour. The ability to block shadow is cute but we have to remember what has shadow – trespasser and looter are the only real cards of great note. If you have a really slow deck then maybe this man can stall the ground a few turns, but I’d prefer Thallid Shell Dweller and Dream Stalker any day.

pic1Ancient Grudge – Strictly for the sideboard but against what? The only great use is anti-totem as the number of bomb artefacts is otherwise minimal.

Blazing Blade Askari – Not unreasonable on the Grey Ogre front and can go nicely in an aggressive RW flanking deck with Cavalry Master. The biggest problem lies in there often being better creatures in the same slot – Germinator, Spiketail, Trespasser, Morphs and any number of white guys. Hence the cut often knocks this guy out.

Bogardan Rager –
Initially I was not a fan of this man until I realised his full potential as removal / game winner. You would be surprised how many unfavourable trades can be turned around by this guy and also how many times he appears to finish an opponent.

Bonesplitter Sliver
– We decided the 4/2 in black was generally unplayable (see Cyclopean Giant) but the same is not true for this man as long as he has some friends. Without other slivers I tend to avoid playing the Bonesplitter, but add in some green for Gemhide, Spinneret, Might and perhaps even Firewake and you have the beginnings of a real beating.

Coal Stoker – Red gets all the storm spells and this man can get you well on the way to a decent count. More often this man just turns into a three drop or Cannonade but rarely is he a disappointment. Solid stats attached to a solid cost with the potential for abuse. Remember you can always dump mana into the Buzzardiers, Thick Skinned Goblin or even one of the storage lands (e.g. fungal reaches) by paying one to add x mana, where x equals zero.

pic2Empty the Warrens – This is a great card with suspend, a great card with Coal Stoker and an even greater card with fortify. If you can reliably get four 1/1s for the cost you are good, any more is gravy and the fortify takes the pain home.

Flamecore Elemental – As well as storm red also gets Echo where the rewards for efficient creatures are balanced by having to double pay their cost. The Elemental has one key point – it kills Baloths and that is important in a red deck with damage based removal. He also does a good round of beating when the time comes.

Flowstone Channeler – The ability may look aggressive but try not to be mistaken. It is best to look at this as repeated removal, be it of any of the multitude of x/1s or as a post combat damage trick. I rate this quite high on the red three drop slot and almost always play it if I can get it.

Ghitu Firebreathing – Aura = bad. Firebreathing not on a dragon = bad. Generally there is no reason to play this card.

Goblin Skycutter – One of the few two drops red gets and by far one of the best. The flexibility is great and the ability to shoot down a Kestrel or Spiketail is important. Remember that you can always shoot something without killing to make it lose flying so you can a) block and kill it or b) swing over with your fliers unhindered. I am always pleased to get a couple of these.

Grapeshot – Similar to the Warrens this card gets incrementally more awesome with an increasing storm count. The benefit this has over the Warrens is the cost of two, meaning you have the rest of the mana to stir up a storm with. At low levels it is still useful to kill a Scout or Gemhide. At high storm count you can whip away an entire opponents board. Shame it is a sorcery though.

Ground Rift – No matter how high you can storm this card is plainly and simply bad. Not completely awful for sure, but certainly bad in the “Don’t play me” category of bad.

Ironclaw Buzzardiers – People seem to be of mixed opinions about the Buzzards. Certainly they are useless defensive creatures as they can only block 1 power men. On the turn though they offer red some much missed evasion and I have flown these guys over for the win on many occasions. Try sticking an Undying Rage on this guy and just keep beating. I tend to prefer these over the Askari when filling my three slot.

pic3Keldon Halberdier – As with the other cycle of turn one suspenders this guy is eminently playable. The one toughness makes him fragile but four points of first strike is difficult to deal with. I don’t grab these guys too high but I know some do rate them.

Lightning Axe – 5 damage for 1 mana is beyond efficient. 1 mana to deal with a Baloth, Castle Raptors and pretty much anything less than Spectral Force. With some madness this can become beyond abusive when any of Dark Withering, Nightshade Assassin and even Gorgon Recluse are around. The ability to hard cast it minus discard for a more polite six is not to be overlooked either. Pick this high or the guy next to you will.

Mogg War Marshal – Two mana for two 1/1s is alright but rarely will anyone attack into the un-echoed man on their third turn. To that end I rarely find an instance where I would pay this guys echo, unless my hand really is that slow. Generally you can get more for either the same or maybe one mana more.

Orcish Cannonade – Do not be frightened by the three damage and do be tempted by the cantrip goodness. Directing this at a creature will usually save more than 3 points of damage in the long run and directing this at an opponent can win games (though I don’t advise it unless they are on two). Card advantage should never be overlooked.

Plunder – Neither the suspend nor the full cost justify this cards appearance in your deck. Congratulations Wizards – another unplayable Pillage variant.

Rift Bolt – It is a close fight between this and lightning axe for best red common but I think the bolt comes a close second. Hard cast it is reasonably priced, but as a suspended Lightning Bolt is where it shines. Not only is it guaranteed to hit something it often stops your opponent from making a creature on their turn for fear of it being killed in preference to whatever they already have out. I am prepared to wait one turn to get maximal mana efficiency.

Subterranean Shambler – This is the other common echo man with a come into / leave play ability, though it does not combo well with the Mogg Marshall. In fact the real downside to this guy is that he does not combo with a lot of things, including most of the red and black early drops and particularly Empty the Warrens. If you can minimise your own loss though this man can easily wipe out hordes of opposing rebels, il-vecs and gobbos.

Two-Headed Sliver – Outside of the sliver deck this man is a poor creature. In a sliver deck he is middling to ok depending on how many Bonesplitter or Might men you have. At that point he can make life really difficult. Worth a one of but I would play Spinneret and Gemhide over him any day.

Viashino Bladescout – Another flash creature, another mediocre combat trick. Sometimes this man is really good, sometimes you wish he just did not have double red in his cost. Ok, but really not special.

So overall red has some great common removal in Lightning Axe, Orcish Cannonade and Rift Bolt but a general lack of great common creatures. The three slot seems rather full of Ogres but we get some real, efficient though echoing beef in the Flamecore. Overall I would go for:

pic41) Lightning Axe
2) Rift Bolt
3) Coal Stoker
4) Orcish Cannonade
5) Keldon Halberdier

I feel that maybe Grapeshot should be in there and maybe I am overrating the Stoker and remember that picks always depend on the rest of your deck. If you are in slivers then pick up the Bonesplitters and if you have fortifies then pick Empty the Warrens high.



Uncommons of note:

Firemaw Kavu – There is almost always no excuse to pass this guy. He is awesome in every eventuality though I do advise caution as you don’t want him eating your own men.

Sulphurous Blast – Similarly you do not pass up on Wrath of God.

Conflagrate – I admit that on first pass I discarded this card as awful but as time goes on I have become more and more impressed. Sure, hard casting this is inefficient at best but flashing it back is the absolute nuts when you trade spare lands for their men. At its best in red/blue but also good outside as a black madness outlet or in green when combined with a Scryb Ranger (though it takes a lot of build up).

So there we have it. Another week, another colour and little time left before Christmas is upon us and we all turn a little rosy from firelight and a bit too much Xmas tipple.


Dr. Chunk




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