Commander Set Review – Modern Horizons (Red)

Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019 by KingRamz
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Posted in mtg, serious business

You’ve read about the best, now read about the rest! Actually, I haven’t covered what I think are the best cards in the set for Commander yet. And I won’t have by the time you finish this part of the review, either.

You can find the previous reviews here:

White Blue Black 

I talked all about the rationale behind my reviews in the White review, so if you missed that, just go back and read that one. I’m not going to waste your time repeating myself; I’m going to tell you about Black cards! Uh, I mean, Red cards. Yeah, definitely didn’t copy/paste that.

Alpine Guide

Don’t run this guide if you’re Green, unless you’re also snow-themed. If you’re not Green, I think he’s actually a decent ramp spell. He may be more vulnerable than a mana rock, but it’s good to diversify the ramp a bit so Vandalblast doesn’t ruin your day. Also note that he can fetch duals and sacrifice basics, so he can provide some permanent color-fixing even if the ramp is only temporary. And the ramp is definitely temporary – the game is going to get to a point where there is no player you can attack with the Guide and expect it to live, so plan for that eventuality. You could try to do something like Humble to make him lose the LTB trigger before he goes away, but that sounds more cute than good.

Aria of Flame

We had this effect already with Sphinx-Bone Wand, which could also hit creatures and didn’t put your opponents up a bunch of life. Seven mana is a lot more than three, though. With the Aria, you can cast it before you cast the rest of your spells. Is it worth it? Well, in a four-player game you’re giving your opponents thirty life. You won’t make that back until the eighth instant or sorcery you cast. Yes, there are proliferate shenanigans you can do, but it seems like a lot of trouble to go to. Just run Guttersnipe or something. Now, if you’re looking to combo this with False Cure or some such nonsense, go forth with my blessing.

Bladeback Sliver

I would expect if you had enough slivers to make this a serious threat, you’d be able to attack profitably instead of just sitting back and pinging. I’m not sure I would want this if it didn’t require being hellbent.

Cleaving Sliver

Four’s a lot, but that’s a hefty power bonus. It’s a slight upgrade to Bonesplitter Sliver since it doesn’t pump opposing Slivers. It might come up with Changelings, anyway. I would definitely run this and Bonesplitter over Battle Sliver and Blade Sliver, but I’d run all of Muscle, Sinew, Predatory, Might and Megantic over this. Combine with Ward Sliver to make dumb jokes about old sitcoms.

Fists of Flame

It’s not a card that goes in every red deck, but there are decks that want this card and that it will play well in, like Zada and Feather. Or you can draw an absurd amount of cards and Falcon Punch someone. That sounds like a good time, too. One of my favorite things to do is kill people by drawing cards. Plus, the name is fun to say.

Force of Rage

This card is not good in our format. It would probably not be worth running at two mana, or if you could cast it for free on your own turn. Run a spell that will make tokens that stick around instead. If you just want a free spell to trigger your Aria of Flame, I suggest looking at Cave-In or Pyrokinesis first.

Goblin Engineer

This is neat. We can play Goblin Welder, but decks that want Welder probably wouldn’t mind playing this, too. It seems tailor-made for Feldon of the Third Path decks, which get to put something juicy in the yard to copy like a Wurmcoil Engine and can then start getting value out of their token copies after they’ve swung.

Goblin Oriflamme

This could be reasonable if you’re tokens and aren’t white or green. The closest cards we have already are Cavalcade of Calamity and Flowstone Surge. You would probably still do better to use mass pump like Mercadia’s Downfall to surprise kill people out of nowhere, but it’s good to remember that this exists now. And of course, it’s an easy swap for Orcish Oriflamme, if you happen to have that in a deck that’s not restricted to white borders or cards printed before 1995.

Hollowhead Sliver

You’d have to have a (yeah, you know) to run this in your Sliver deck. Actually, tap to rummage doesn’t seem that bad, but I don’t think it’s what the Sliver deck wants to be doing. Maybe if you’re trying to combo off with Patriarch’s Bidding or Living Death? Still probably not.

Pashalik Mons

As a commander:
If you wanted to build a mono-red Goblin tribal token deck, you already had a couple Krenkos you could work with. Mons isn’t as efficient at generating a token horde as they are, but the ping trigger lets you attack at a different angle. It also lets you do some cute deathtouch tricks – give Mons a Basilisk Collar and watch the fireworks! There’s one thing that confuses me, though – I don’t see anything this card does that could be remotely confused with Anarchy.

In the 99:
Did you see up there where I was talking about Krenko? Yeah, if you’re Krenko, you want Mons. In fact, most Goblin tribal decks are going to want Mons, because most Goblin tribal decks are going to go wide. Mons doesn’t pump your team, but he does give you value when your board inevitably gets wiped. It’s less good if you don’t have free sac outlets, since you need your creatures to die for direction to sporadically and violently appear.

Planebound Accomplice

If you’re doing something broken with this, like Cloudstone Curio shenanigans with the various planeswalkers that produce RR, then go for it. But don’t just throw it in a Superfriends deck to play fair with it – you won’t accomplice much that way.

Ravenous Giant

You know it’s weird; I could swear that I remember Juzam being played by a black creature. It’s hard to find good-sized Giants for less than 5 mana, so I guess I could see playing this guy in a Giant tribal deck. But a vanilla 5/5 body isn’t exactly the greatest, so you probably only want him if you’re upgrading like, a vanilla 4/3 for 4 or some other draft chaff creature. And if you’re not Giant tribal, play a good card instead of this.

Seasoned Pyromancer

Spicy! Unless you’re specifically Goblins, this card compares pretty favorably to Hordeling Outburst. Sure, if you’re hellbent, this doesn’t make three dudes, but I think when you’re hellbent, you’d rather have one dude + Divination anyway. It’s cheap enough to have some play with madness, and this seems like another card that would be great in Feldon. Just be careful – the discard isn’t optional, so don’t cast this if it’s going to make you discard something you really need to hang on to.

Spiteful Sliver

I like this a lot, in spite of its Gray Ogre physique. The ability is a solid rattlesnake to ward off large attackers, and it’s going to make people holding red sweepers very reluctant to deploy them. Unless the person holding a red sweeper is you, and the sweeper you are holding is Blasphemous Act or Star of Extinction. If you run Spiteful Sliver, you may want to skew your mass removal accordingly.

Tectonic Reformation

We already had Trade Routes and nobody ever played it. Of course, blue has lots of ways to draw extra cards, and red doesn’t. This also triggers stuff that cares about cycling, and Trade Routes doesn’t do that either. And paying one mana to cycle your lands is way better than paying two. I could imagine running this in a deck that wants to get lands into the yard, like maybe Lord Windgrace, or in a cycling theme deck. But don’t just throw it in the 99 to get value out of cashing in extra lands or I’ll nail your decklist to your door.

Top 3:
3. Pashalik Mons
2. Goblin Engineer
1. Seasoned Pyromancer

The pickings here feel a little slimmer than the other colors, but it could just be that I mostly haven’t played and don’t plan to play the kinds of decks these cards go into. I picked Seasoned Pyromancer for the top slot because you can potentially just run him for value in a lot of decks. Goblin Engineer and Pashalik Mons both have a lot more specific requirements, and Mons doesn’t really let you do much you couldn’t already do with other commanders. I guess we do kinda-sorta get a new archetype here with Planebound Accomplice letting you make a goofy planeswalker Curio combo deck, but other than that, it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot to get excited about here.