Gatecrash Set Review Part 5/6 – Red and Boros by Grant Hislop
Hello again. Welcome back. This is the penultimate piece of my Gatecrash set review. Today, we’ll be covering the Red and Boros coloured cards, having looked at the other colours and guilds previously, before moving onto Hybrid, Artifacts and Lands later, to conclude.
I must say, while the cards look like they’ll lend very well to a varied limited format, there really haven’t been that many Constructed standouts. I suppose, when you’re getting reprints of five of the most powerful cards in Modern, you don’t really need all that much more to sell the set, but to be honest, it really has been quite underwhelming so far.
Fingers crossed for some solid red and Boros ones then!
Act of Treason is a known quantity, and has seen play in Standard before, predominantly as a way to steal Baneslayer Angel and/or Titans. Act of Treason being a functional reprint of Threaten, which again was a tournament level sideboard card just underlines what we should already know about this card. It’s good enough to see play, when the format is right.
In limited, it’s obviously a lot better if we can find a way to ensure that the opponent doesn’t actually get their creature back, either through sacrificing it, or ideally, just killing them. It’s still fine if you don’t, but ideally, you cast this, and win the game on the spot. Solid card, and one that definitely fits in with both the Boros and Gruul guilds.
This is our first Battalion creature, and it’s a bit of a stinker. I suppose it helps turn on the other creatures Battalions, which is ok, I suppose. One damage is just a little bit low impact. If we could get two or three of them going in tandem though, I suppose that would be somewhat more interesting. I think you’ll need these en-masse to actually get any value out of them.
1/2’s that want you to play aggressively aren’t really up to scratch, are they?
This is, for the most part, Blaze with Suspend 4. That’s not a bad thing. Its delay is somewhat mitigated by the fact that it can be activated at instant speed. I’m a big fan of rattlesnake cards like this, especially those like Pernicious Deed, that give a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ feeling. This isn’t on par with Deed, for constructed, but it does a very reasonable impression in draft, which is certainly no bad thing.
This is just far too reliant on other cards for a really small impact to be worth a card. I don’t think, off the top of my head, I’ve ever had more than three Gates in my draft decks, and I don’t think it’d be particularly worthwhile to turn them into Flame Jabs. Really, just not worth the effort for such a small payoff.
The mono-red deck already has Mogg Flunkies in standard, and the extra point of toughness for an additional mana seems unlikely to be what mono-red players are looking for. This is more important for Boros than for Gruul, who’re more likely to want Battalion triggering bodies. Still, it’s an aggressively costed body, and one which fits in either guild well enough.
This is a solid limited role player, in that it’s going to help keep your battalion swinging. These are going to be crazy good in multiples, where you can do a reasonable impression of keeping the opponent’s team locked down. The Boros are very much the Rakdos of the set, in that they’re going to be the lightning fast guild of the set. I can’t imagine many people leaving a pre-release without a Boros beatdown story or two.
Another rattlesnake card, like Cinder Elemental, but this is far more interesting. I like the idea of casting this on turn 3, slowly ticking it up, before using it to deal lethal to the opponent, or even clearing the way for the team to keep swinging, and ticking up for a repeat activation. Bomb rare, for sure.
Solid on turn one, where it’ll likely be able to deal a fair bit of damage, but every turn after, it’s just so much worse. It very much suffers from “1/1 for one syndrome”, and once the initial rush of 2-4 damage is over, it doesn’t really do a good job of holding the ground. Easily the worst of the denizen cycle, sadly.
I don’t really see the red decks wanting to block all that much, ergo I can’t see this card seeing much play.
The last two abilities might as well not exist on this card, as there’re very few decks that play any Artifacts, never mind twenty! The best use I can think of for this card outside of limited is an EDH deck with Mycosynth Lattice, and a solid Artifact theme of its own.
Generic limited dragon, very tough to beat.
Fervor on a stick is at least interesting for constructed. Looking at the current crop of red decks though, anything that costs four or more already has haste anyway, which is a pretty big strike against Hellraiser Goblin.
In limited, it’s really solid for Boros, who’re basically going to want to turn everything sideways every turn anyway. Plus, you could always just play creatures post-combat if you don’t want to attack with them that turn. Seems very interesting to me.
Well, it kills Restoration Angels in swathes, which isn’t a bad thing. The problem is, four mana is so much, and you’d rather have Falkenrath Aristocrat or Hellrider, in most instances. This strikes me more as a control card, where again, there’s a lot of competition. This is at least an Instant, so it’ll fit nicely in any draw-go style decks, though those are something of a relic of the past with Cavern of Souls in the format.
Premium limited removal, where it’ll kill almost anything that’s not a rare, and many of those that are.
For limited, it’s a 1/1 for one, with no way to pump itself beyond that without additional cards, which doesn’t seem good. It’s at least got haste, so it can deal some damage before getting completely outclassed by the typically sized limited creatures.
This is absolutely a playable aura. Two mana for a three power boost is very good, and the evasion it grants means anything it’s placed on is likely to at least generate a two for two in combat. The traditional aura based weaknesses to removal are still there, as putting all your eggs in one basket is frequently a losing proposition.
This is a very interesting limited card. I’m not sure if it’s quite as insane as I think it is at first glance. It’s a mass Falter, which is already crazy, and the ability to effectively completely dictate the combat step is ridiculously good. I’ll need to play with it to get an accurate impression, but this could easily be one of the best uncommon in the set.
Seems like generic limited removal to me, nothing more. It’s solid, and unsplashable outside of Gruul or Boros. I think it’s slightly better in Boros than Gruul, as I see the former being more about critical mass of bodies, regardless of what they do than the more Voltron style Gruul decks, but it’s decent in either.
Red decks in this block really don’t want an opponent to control their creatures all that long. At the point where you’re at six mana though, it’s tough to cast this and just win. It’s a very unfavourable comparison to Zealous Conscripts in Constructed, though a hasty Craw Wurm with an upside is going to be a pretty big draw to red in Sealed deck.
Another one for the Boros deck, acting as removal for the opponent’s weenies, and Falters for the larger ones. It’s decent removal in Gruul, but a lot better in Boros.
Doesn’t compare favourably to the host of red burn already available in Constructed though.
This strikes me as decidedly more Gruul than Boros, as a way to ensure you’ve got a creature getting through to Bloodrush, as at this size, it’s typically going to necessitate a gang block, or just get through unmolested. The lack of evasion is somewhat concerning, but it’s solid for what it does, even if it’s not particularly exciting.
I’m definitely expecting to see Scorchwalker getting discarded more than cast. 5/1’s are just too fragile to be long for this world, especially without even having the decency to have trample or haste. Still, it’ll be very solid, as a five power pump for only three mana is very, very solid.
It’s far too expensive and unhasty for Constructed, where it does a very poor impression of a Hellrider. It’s just not good enough.
This is, again, not quite good enough for Constructed. Realistically, outside of Ghor-Clan Rampager, I can’t see any of the Bloodrush cards making the transition from forty to sixty card decks.
In limited, it’s going to be one of the key cards for both Gruul and Boros decks, as it’s an excellent curve filler, and a decent combat trick in a pinch too. This should end up being a relatively high pick, as the format develops.
An awful lot has been written about Skullcrack, and I don’t want to tread over old ground. Suffice it to say, it’s the real deal, and will easily be one of the most impactful cards from the set for Constructed. Control decks have been relying quite heavily on Sphinx’s Revelation and Thragtusk as a way to stabilise against the hyper-aggro decks of the format. While holding up mana isn’t really what a red deck wants to do, it’s possible it’s going to become a necessary evil. Of all the cards in the set, I’m most excited to play around with Skullcrack.
Interestingly, it’s not really what we’re looking for in Limited. Cards like Bump in the Night were excellent, as a common, they were easy to get lots of, and they represented far more than just three damage over the course of a game. These are uncommon, and are just instant speed Lava Spikes. Decidedly underwhelming. If they could at least target a creature, you’d be looking at a premium uncommon, but as is, it’s not going to be unusual to see these wheeling.
This is just far too expensive for what it does. Six mana is ridiculously expensive for sacrifice based removal, even if it does deal two damage.
Is there any reason to play this over Underworld Connections? If you can think of any, let me know. Looter effects just aren’t worth five mana, however you try to market it.
While it’s actually a Boros card, it’s just as at home in the Gruul decks. While it’s not particularly exciting, it’s a decent sized body for what it costs, and if you can make it Vigilant, more’s the better. You’ll not want many of these, obviously, due to curve concerns, but as a common, it should be relatively easy to pick one up over the course of a draft.
Another one that’s almost exactly what both of the red guilds are looking for. The sheer volume of combat tricks in this set is staggering, and ones like the Shanktail are cream of the crop. It’s a huge return on investment, and is equally good when you cast him, due to his First Strike.
This seems like a curve filler for Boros, rather than anything particularly exciting. If you can reliably trigger it, attacking as a 4/3 is pretty nice, I suppose.
This is clearly a bulk rare, but it’s so filthy in limited. There’s no way this isn’t a P1P1 calibre card. It’s solid either cast or used as a trick, which is the mark of a good Bloodrush card, and there’s very few that are as powerful as +3/+3 and Double Strike. This seems, more than any other Bloodrush card, like it’s just going to end the game as soon as it hits. Any creature with two power suddenly represents a ten point life swing, which is ridiculous value for only five mana.
Red seems typically solid for limited play, and in this set, it doesn’t disappoint. Really not much for Constructed play, at first blush, but it certainly seems solid for draft.
Moving on now to Boros, to conclude our 5 guilds.
At five mana, you’d really be looking for it do a bit more than nothing on the turn that it comes down. Even waiting a turn, all you’ve got to show for it is a 1/1 haste creature. It’s really a little on the slow side, and isn’t at all what I expect Boros decks to want, in either Constructed or Limited.
Possibly a sideboard card for RWU control decks, as a trump for the mirror, though it’s competing with Jace, Memory Adept in than slot, which isn’t really a contest the Legion are likely to win…
Aurelia represents a huge colour and mana commitment, so what you get for it better be huge. I think the trick with her is going to be ensuring that she doesn’t just trade with a Restoration Angel, which is going to be quite difficult. If you can find a way to ensure she gets to keep swinging though, it’ll be solid.
I think that £15 isn’t unreasonable for this card in the short term, as it’s an Angel, and a legendary one to boot. The typically unpopular colour combination for Commander will probably see it take a pretty big dip post rotation, as demand dries up.
Limited bomb, though you’ll need to be heavily committed to Boros to play it.
This is a card that’s been hyped up, and I don’t think it’s deservedly so. It does a lot, sure, but it’s ridiculously mana intensive. Rolling Thunder was solid in its day due to the creatures being considerably smaller. If Lingering Souls, Avacyn’s Pilgrims and co are prevalent, then this is good times, but for the most part, you’re looking at an expensive Sleep variant, with the ability to just go to the opponents face.
I think that this is overvalued at £25, and £15 is more realistic price when the dust settles. It’s possible that I’m under-appreciating it, and if Bonfire of the Damned is any indication, the current ceiling on mythic rares in standard rotation seems to be around £40. This is nowhere near as good as a Bonfire off the top, but really, what is?
Stupid, ridiculous limited mythic though, easily splashable too, due to the scalable nature of the card.
As with the better members of the Charm cycle, it’s very easy to imagine using all three modes of this card in a game of Magic, which bodes very well. I’m actually inclined to think that this is the best of the cycle by quite a bit. Not that any of them are necessarily bad, per se, but this is just so, so good. Those of you with keen memories will remember I promised a ranking of the Charms, so here we go. All constructed formats considered, and highly subjective:-
Obviously highly subjective, and I’d like to get an idea of what other people think on this too. Feel free to sound off in the forums.
Queen of the battalion cards, and what a card at that! Lightning Helix was king back in the day, and assuming you can reliably trigger battalion, you’re looking at one every turn. The life point swing this affords should quickly put the game away.
Firemane Avenger is probably not quite there for Standard at present, but if we can get some solid support cards to go with it, it wouldn’t surprise me too much to see it making a splash. I’m imagining some sort of RWB coloured deck, with Lingering Souls, Rally the Peasants, Midnight Haunting etc, but I think Hellrider’s a better curve topper in that kind of deck.
Hopefully we can all agree there’s not much to this card. It’s one of the better curve toppers in Boros decks, but that’s it. It’s very good at what it does, but really, I don’t see Boros wanting many five drops, so there’s likely to be a lot of competition.
This is the Boros pre-release card, for those who’re into that sort of thing. Acting as removal as well as a Firebreather on the same card is a pretty fantastic deal, however you look at it. It’s a little on the expensive side, I suppose, for the Boros decks, who’re more likely to want to stop the curve at four, but as a late game top-deck, it’ll do the business.
It’s a good Boros combat trick, I guess, but it’s a little on the expensive side. With the plethora of red Bloodrush cards, it’s unlikely that this is going to be worthwhile. It’s unfortunate, but it’s just not what Boros want, unless they’re totally starving for tricks.
This is interesting, because without Battalion, it’s pretty bad, but when you’re triggering it, it’s a considerable beater. Without Battalion, you’re almost always trading down, but with it, you’re looking at quite the beating. Without playing with the set at all, it’s difficult to picture just how reliably Boros is going to be able to trigger Battalion, ergo it’s tough to imagine how good this is going to be. Time will tell.
This is a known quantity. It wasn’t really very good last time around for constructed, and I don’t think it’ll be any different this time around. In limited, it’s an evasive, reasonably sized body, and haste is always welcome. It’s not exciting, as Wind Drakes seldom are, but it’ll do the job.
Easily the most sexualised card art in the set. Ridiculous.
Boros Lightning. The lifelink makes this a lot more appealing for Constructed, but I think this just costs too much to see play. It’s probably pretty good in the aggressive mirror, but one toughness is pretty weak in a burn prevalent format, which we seem to have at present.
In limited, it’s fine, I suppose, but you really want long term board presence rather than the one shot and bust that this card represents. It’ll be fine, but it’s not really something to get overly excited about.
This is, in limited, effectively a Planeswalker. It’ll take over a game on its own, and, like Pack Rat before it, it’s easy to envisage winning a game without actually casting another spell. Stupidly good, and easily worth splashing for, assuming you’re in one of the colours already.
It’s a mana sink for the Boros deck, which is welcome. Will make combat maths very difficult for an opponent, which is always good news. Again, you can play this, and almost swing with impunity, as an opponent will seldom actually be able to generate a positive block here. Just as good in the late game as it is on turn two, if not better due to the additional mana you’ll likely have available, presenting a brick wall on the ground.
Ridiculously good. Two mana for three power is already good, and the Battalion makes it very difficult to block profitably. Another one that will definitely make its way into my common-only cube. One of the better commons in Boros, I’d expect, and will be easy to collect, as they’re so colour intensive.
Top Five Cards I Want to Play With in Constructed:-
You can get all your Gatecrash singles here!
What are your top 5 cards pick from this guild?