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Zendikar Rising Draft Guide – Red | Magic: The Gathering

Welcome back to another Zendikar Rising draft guide for Magic: The Gathering! Last time, I went over all the cards for black. Today, we will be looking at all the red cards.

Before I get into my rating for each card, here’s a brief overview of my Zendikar Draft Guide rating system.

  • 1 – Bad card or only useful in the sideboard
  • 2 – Passable, but not something I would pick early or often
  • 3 – A solid card I’m happy to pick most of the time
  • 4 – Powerful cards that provide a lot of value on their own
  • 5 – Cards that will almost always win the game if your opponents can’t deal with them

Now that we know how I’ll be rating each card, let’s get straight into the ratings.

Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Draft Guide – Red

Akoum Hellhound

Akoum Hellhound – 1.5

This card is great for standard, but a little bit too weak for limited. Don’t get me wrong, this card is amazing if you’re on the play and you cast it on turn 1. However, if you play it any time after that, it becomes severely worse.

Ardent Electromancer

Ardent Electromancer – 2 // 2.5

Arden Electromancer can be great for aggro decks that utilize the extra mana on turn 3. However, you usually never want a 3-mana 3/2, so be careful when picking up this card.

Cinderclasm

Cinderclasm – 3

Cinderclasm is pretty much just Pyroclasm. This card can slow down any early pressure your opponent may have, or help finish off a creature that only has 1-2 health left.

Cleansing Wildfire

Cleansing Wildfire – 2 // 2.5

Cleansing Wildfire is very interesting. The main use of this card is to trigger landfall and replace itself, which isn’t a bad effect at all. If you have strong landfall payoffs in your deck, Cleansing Wildfire can make your deck more consistent.

Expedition Champion

Expedition Champion – 2.5

A solid common creature that helps fill up your party requirement. If you’re able to consistently get it as a 4/3, then it becomes great.

Fireblade Charger

Fireblade Charger – 3

I like this card. It trades well into 2-drops and makes all of our combat spells and equipment just a little bit better. On top of all of that, the first ability actually makes Fireblade Charger a relevant top deck.

Fissure Wizard

Fissure Wizard – 2.5

A good filler creature that helps fill up your party requirement. It’s nice that the rummage is a “may” ability.

Goma Fada Vanguard

Goma Fada Vanguard – 2.5 // 3

A solid 2/2 that makes chump blocking a little more difficult for your opponent. It’s a great warrior to have in your red decks, and can enable aggressive strategies. However, it’s not a priority pick by any means.

Grotag Bug-Catcher

Grotag Bug-Catcher – 1.5

In my opinion, this card is going to stumble a lot more than you think, making it a below-average playable.

Grotag Night-Runner

Grotag Night-Runner – 2.5

Despite the low stats, Grotag Night-Runner is deceptively useful. This goblin fulfills your rogue requirement while forcing your opponent to leave a blocker behind. Solid inclusion for most red decks.

Inordinate Rage

Inordinate Rage – 1.5

Like most combat tricks, Inordinate Rage isn’t great, but definitely playable.

Kargan Intimidator

Kargan Intimidator – 4

A warrior that turns your opponent’s creatures into cowards? Man, I love flavorful cards. Kargan Intimidator scales well into the late game and does an incredible job at forcing through damage. Overall, Kargan Intimidator is a great first pick, as he increases the value of all the warriors in your deck.

Leyline Tyrant

Leyline Tyrant – 5

Leyline Tyrant just being a 4-mana 4/4 flyer is already insane. Plus, the fact that this dragon threatens more damage every turn it’s alive makes it an auto-win, unless your opponent deals with it right away. Leyline Tyrant is an amazing bomb.

Magmatic Channeler

Magmatic Channeler – 4

Magmatic Channeler is a great payoff for a spells-matter deck, since the ability to cast cards for free is incredibly strong. Also, the fact that it can block off early damage and become a 4/4 threat in the mid-late game is a nice cherry on top.

Molten Blast

Molten Blast – 1.5

Although this is an incredibly strong sideboard card, there just aren’t enough impactful artifacts in Zendikar Rising to justify main-decking Molten Blast. It’s just an extremely expensive Shock.

Moraug, Fury of Akoum

Moraug, Fury of Akoum – 5

Wow, I can’t wait to build a minotaur tribal commander deck with Moraug. This creature is a great win condition for any red deck, as he provides free attacks onto your opponent’s life total. Attack, attack, attack!

Nahiri's Lithoforming

Nahiri’s Lithoforming – 1.5

Some landfall decks will find Nahari’s Lithoforming marginally useful. But for the majority of players, this effect just doesn’t do enough to help them win the game. Pass.

Pyroclastic Hellion

Pyroclastic Hellion – 2

A slightly-above-average filler card. The ability to return a land to your hand can actually prove to be useful, and free damage is always nice.

Relic Robber

Relic Robber – 3

I like Relic Robber. Just getting one or two triggers off this card can be extremely useful, and can actually be a win-condition sometimes. With that said, you might want to pick up cards to help make Relic Robber evasive. Otherwise, he ends up just being a 3-mana 2/2 with haste, which is pretty bad.

Rockslide Sorcerer

Rockslide Sorcerer – 3.5

A solid enabler for blue/red spells. The ability to target anything is powerful.

Roil Eruption

Roil Eruption – 3

One of the best common removal spells for red. 2-mana to deal 3 damage is very efficient.

Roiling Vortex

Roiling Vortex – 1

What a great commander card!

Scavenged Blade

Scavenged Blade – 2.5

I love the direction Equipment is heading towards. The fact that they instantly attach onto creatures now makes them slightly better auras. In terms of Scavenged Blade, this card is a solid pick that allows your weaker creatures to trade into larger creatures.

Scorch Rider

Scorch Rider – 2

A weak filler creature.

Shatterskull Charger

Shatterskull Charger – 4

Most of the time, you want to be casting Shatterskull Charger as a 5-mana 6/5. However, against slower decks, you can cast it for 3 mana to get in damage. Overall, this card is efficient and gets the job done.

Shatterskull Minotaur

Shatterskull Minotaur – 3.5

Pick this card whenever you can. I’ve played against this card a few times now, and it almost always comes down as a 4-mana 5/4 with haste.

Sizzling Barrage

Sizzling Barrage – 1.5

I feel like this card was supposed to be in white, not red. Anyways, it’s too conditional to be useful and will put you behind in cards. Avoid including this card into your deck if you’re able.

Skyclave Geopede

Skyclave Geopede – 3.5

This is what I’m talking about. A solid red beater with trample.

Sneaking Guide

Sneaking Guide – 1.5

This card requires you to dump way too much mana into it. However, if you have cards that need to be evasive (Relic Robber, for example), then it can be a decent playable.

Spitfire Lagac

Spitfire Lagac – 1.5

Dealing 1 damage for every land you play just isn’t impactful enough.

Synchronized Spellcraft

Synchronized Spellcraft – 2 / 2.5

5-mana to deal 4 damage is not where I want to be, but the extra burn can prove to be useful. Overall, Synchronized Spellcraft is a solid playable, but can definitely be replaced.

Teeterpeak Ambusher

Teeterpeak Ambusher – 2

Teeterpeak Ambusher looks best in an aggressive deck, but paying 3-mana every turn is just too costly. In a dedicated warrior deck this card can do some work, otherwise I’d try to include something else.

Thundering Rebuke

Thundering Rebuke – 3.5

A simple and effective removal spell. I like it.

Thundering Sparkmage

Thundering Sparkmage – 4

Most of the time, Thundering Sparkmage consistently comes down and Shocks an enemy unit, which is great. At best, he basically provides you with a free Thundering Rebuke. There doesn’t seem to be many downsides to this card, making it a great pickup.

Tormenting Voice

Tormenting Voice – 2

Tormenting Voice has always been a decent card to include if you want to smoothen out your draws.

Tuktuk Rubblefort

Tuktuk Rubblefort – 1.5

Tuktuk Rubblefort could be good if it had more health. However, 3 health can be overtaken pretty easily in this set, making this card a weak inclusion.

Valakut Exploration

Valakut Exploration – 4

This card does everything. It deals damage, gives you card advantage, and is difficult to remove. What’s not to love?

Wayward Guide-Beast

Wayward Guide-Beast – 1

Losing a land every time I want to deal 2-damage just doesn’t seem worth it.

Akoum Warrior Akoum Teeth

 

Akoum Warrior – 3.5

Akoum Warrior has beefy stats and is useful during every stage of the game. Sign me up.

Kazuul's Fury Kazuul's Cliffs

 

Kazuul’s Fury – 3.5

During the early game, this card acts as a land. During the mid-late game, it acts as a finisher. I like both of those options.

Shatterskull Smashing Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass

 

Shatterskull Smashing – 4.5

This card creates some disgusting board wipes, and can even win you the game. Even if it wasn’t a modal card, I’d rate it highly.

Song-Mad Treachery Song-Mad Ruins

 

Song-Mad Treachery – 3

Song-Mad Treachery is yet another card that’s only good because it has the option of coming down as a land.

Spikefield Hazard Spikefield Cave

Spikefield Hazard – 3

Spikfield Hazard is a lot better than you think, since there are actually a good amount of 1-health creatures in Zendikar Rising!

Valakut Awakening Valakut Stoneforge

 

Valakut Awakening – 3

Valukut Awakening doesn’t provide card advantage, but it can definitely find the answers you need. The ability to have a complete hand reset is extremely useful in situations where you draw into a bunch of dead cards.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, Red is looking fairly weak in this Magic: The Gathering set since its common creatures have below-average stats and heavy mana sinks. On the bright side, the warrior theme is strong, and the landfall support is definitely present. This leads me to believe that Red is a strong supportive color, as the color offers a wide range of options for any archetype.
Anyways, that’s it for the Zendikar Rising draft guide for red! Next up are the green cards!

Stay tuned to SQUAD for more Magic: The Gathering content.

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Paul Dudsdeemaytha

Paul Dudsdeemaytha is a Vancouver, BC-based writer and content creator at SQUAD. Paul specializes in creating guides for Magic: The Gathering and Legends of Runeterra. When he's not writing, you can probably find him throwing frisbees nearby.
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