Ixalan Standard Set Review: Red

We’re getting closer and close to the end of our set review and so far, Ixalan looks very promising for Standard. Today we will be covering the Red cards and tomorrow we will get everything else. You ready? I’m ready!

Before we begin reviewing the cards let’s go over some things. I will not be reviewing cards that I believe will not see play in Standard. For example, cards like Encampment Keeper and Paladin of the Bloodstained will be omitted since they are just Limited cards and me saying, “This is just a Limited card” repeatedly is redundant and not necessary. However, I will be covering all the rare and mythic cards in the set. Let’s go over my grading scale for Standard.

RATINGExplanationStandard Examples

0 — Will never see play in Standard. (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, Deadlock Trap)
3 — Commonly played, staple in a single deck, or frequent play in several decks. (Attune with Aether, Abrade)
4 — Format staple, sees play in multiple decks, one of the best cards in the format. (Torrential Gearhulk, Glimmer of Genius, Glorybringer, The Scarab God)
5 — Standard all-star. When building a deck, you keep this card in mind. If you’re playing this color you have this card in your main deck or at the very least, in your sideboard. (Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Hero’s Downfall, Snapcaster Mage)

Check out the previous entries!
White | Blue | Black

Angrath's Marauders
1 — Way too much mana for this type of ability. It's also on a 4/4 body which is very fragile, especially on turn seven. Pretty sweet for Commander though, especially since it's one sided.
Burning Sun's Avatar
3Searing Blaze on a body isn't too shabby. While it's no Inferno Titan, it is better than Inferno Titan the turn you cast it which is good enough for me to play it. I'm okay killing a creature and/or Planeswalker then untapping with a 6/6 dinosaur.
Captain Lannery Storm
2 — I thought about playing this in a Big Red deck but I figured I'd just be better off playing something like Cultivator’s Caravan unless I was making a ton of clue tokens, even then I'm not sold. Just because it has haste doesn't guarantee you'll get the treasure from it either, it can very easily die before combat. A 3-mana creature that dies to Shock and Magma Spray isn't where you or I want to be.
Captivating Crew
2 — Red has so many good 4-drops. I really like this card but I expect it may come out of the Sideboard. As far as main deck cards go, Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Hazoret the Fervent are too good, this crew isn't captivating enough for me to replace those cards with it.
Charging Monstrosaur
2 — 5 toughness is where you want to be in Standard. It doesn't die to Glorybringer or Chandra, Torch of Defiance. It does cost five but we have two solid ways to reduce that with Kinjalli’s Caller, Otepec Huntmaster, and Drover of the Mighty. This monster of a monstrosaur has a chance!
Dual Shot
2 — A solid removal spell in the Sideboard for aggressive decks or just decks that have a ton of x/1 creatures.
Fiery Cannonade
2.5 — Great in a pirate deck and great in every Red Sideboard. An instant speed Pyroclasm will absolutely see play if small creature decks exist and they aren't pirates.
Lightning Strike
4 — Red has been craving a spell like this since it rotated out of Standard. This card will see play for as long as it's legal in Standard. It's one of the best 2 mana removal spells behind Harnessed Lightning that doubles as a burn spell as well.
Nest Robber
2 — What? It has haste and it's a dinosaur. Aggressive decks play some weird cards man. Obviously worse than Earthshaker Khenra but does Red want more hasty stuff? Maybe?
Otepec Huntmaster
2.5 — Reduce the cost of my dinosaurs AND give them haste? Yes please! If we have Red midrange aggressive dino deck, Otepec can easily make the cut.
2.5 — Will 100% see play in Red sideboards even if it's good enough or not. I'm leaning toward the side of good enough, especially since a lot of these vampires of lifelink and so do the vampire tokens. Something like Call to the Feast is very playable and tends to be amazing against aggressive decks. Rampaging Ferocidon stops all that nonsense, it also stops Authority of the Consuls and Regal Caracal.
Repeating Barrage
2.5Hammer of Bogardan except with Raid. Still playable in my book, if just one Repeating Barrage deals six damage, you're going places. Not exactly sure where, but you're going! Seems solid in as a singleton in a Big Red deck or {R}{X} Midrange.
Rigging Runner
3 — Red needs 1-drops. However, this is a 1-drop you don't want to play on turn one? Awkward . . .  I think it will see play in the beginning but as the format goes on people will play less Rigging Runner in their aggressive Red decks.
2 — Trigger Enrage, gain trample, and draw a card? This is great on something like Ripjaw Raptor or any dinosaur with a decent Enrage ability. Possibly {R}{G} dinosaurs.
Rowdy Crew
2.5 — Again, Red has so many good 4-drops. Do you play this over Hazoret or Chandra? Maybe . . .  That's only if you can reliably get the +1/+1 counters, even then it's risky. I do like it as more of a Desperate Ravings in a Red midrange/control deck that isn't playing Blue, it is a decent way to pitch lands or irrelevant spells later in the game. So, it does have potential.
Star of Extinction
2 — This will be a solid Sideboard cards for Red midrange/control decks. Hour of Devastation does always kill everything, especially if our opponent is playing something like Dinosaurs. You know what does? A GIANT METEOR, FLAVOR WIN!
Sunbird's Invocation
2.5 — This is my favorite card in the set. It gives us a combo deck in {R}{W}{X} Approach of the Second Sun since casting Approach with this out and hitting another Approach in the top seven means you win the game on the spot. Think of Magical Christmas land! Wily Goblin turn two into Chandra, Torch of Defiance turn three. Then on turn four you play Sunbird’s Invocation and win on turn five by casting Approach. Do the stars must line up? Sure . . .  But it's still cool and I'm still going to try it! Even without Approach of the Second Sun untapping with this card is likely to just be game over.
2 — Remember how Red aggressive decks sometimes play some weird cards? Yea . . .  This is exactly like that.
Tilonalli's Skinshifter
1.5 — COOOOMBOOOO! With what exactly? I have no idea. This card is very awkwardly bad because it has so much text on it but it doesn't really do anything. I take back my combo comment in the beginning.
Vance's Blasting Cannons
3 — A different take on Outpost Siege. Being Legendary means, you can’t just keep playing one after the other, you also can’t play lands off it like you could from Outpost Siege, and that is the biggest drawback this card has. The tradeoff for all this is Spitfire Bastion. Is the payoff worth it? Absolutely! If you thought Ramunap Ruins had inevitable reach, this one has more and can target creatures too. I like this in a {U}{R} shell with Opt, Spell Pierce, and Shocks. I also like it in a {B}{R}{X} Control/Midrange shell. Does it compete with Chandra? Yea, but that doesn’t mean you can’t just play both.
Wily Goblin
2.5 — Remember when I said Red as a ton of good 4-drops? Well, those 4-drops would really be better on turn three. I could see this goblin pirate in a Big Red type of deck.

Top 5 Best Red Cards

  1. Lightning Strike
  2. Burning Sun’s Avatar
  3. Vance’s Blasting Cannons
  4. Rigging Runner
  5. Wily Goblin

Red didn’t gain as many powerful cards as White, Blue, and Black but it had a lot more playable cards which means Red is going to be a good support color come Ixalan. Wily Goblin begs for the Big Red archetype. Burning Sun’s Avatar is a very strong card and the thing that will be holding it back is going to be its cost in mana and color requirement, but when it does find a home, it’s going to be a house.

That wraps it up for today. You’ll want to tune in tomorrow. We’ll have the Green, multicolored, artifact, and land cards to go over!

Until then, thanks for reading,
Ali Aintrazi
@AliEldrazi on Twitter

Ixalan is now available for Preorder! Pick up sealed product and singles as they're posted!