Dragon’s Maze Set Review – Part 4: Red, Boros & Gruul by Grant Hislop

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Dragon’s Maze – MTG Return to Ravnica set 3/3

Dragon’s Maze Set Review – Part 4: Red, Boros & Gruul by Grant Hislop

My apologies to those who enjoy reading bits and pieces before the card reviews. I’m working a 60-hour week this week, which is very unpleasant, and consequently, I have very little free time in the evening that isn’t devoted to looking at pictures of Magical cards. If I skip intros, there’s a chance that on Friday, I can do something vaguely human with my girlfriend, like a cinema trip or restaurant visit, and there’s like a 99% certainty that I like her better than you, so I’m going to have to jump straight into cards.

Awe for the Guilds

Awe for the GuildsCards like this make me want to stop reading. This just isn’t anywhere near good enough, and since Wizards didn’t even bother thinking up an interesting name for it, I’m not going to bother thinking up something remotely pleasant to say about it.

Clear a Path

This is the narrowest of narrow removal spells. Lobber Crew and Ogre Gatecrasher were pretty much the only Defender’s that I can think of that one might feasibly want to kill, and even then, it’s not going to be worth a card in ones deck specifically to do that. Poor show Red, poor show.

Maze Rusher

It’s another overcosted ‘Maze’ creature, with an ability for the multi-coloured creatures of your deck. This one is actually reasonable for limited, though it’ll clearly be nowhere near a Constructed table. Six power haste creatures are at least reasonable, and that this one potentially gives it to the rest of your draws as well is pretty saucy. I like this one best of the cycle, but that’s not really saying much.

Possibility Storm

Possibility StormI tried to read this card, but I knew there was a possibility I’d get bored. This is stupid, and I want nothing to do with it. If you can get it to work, more power to you, but this card isn’t for me. These sorts of unreliable, daft cards must be for someone, but it’s definitely not me.

Punish the Enemy

It’s far too expensive for Constructed, but it’s ok in limited. I like Annihilating Fire better, but this isn’t too awful. 5 mana is a little on the steep side, but often times, you have to make do with what you’ve got.

Pyrewild Shaman

I like this card a lot actually. Having a mana sink is important for aggressive decks to mitigate flood, and while this isn’t ideal, it’s not the worst either. I think this is one of the more under-appreciated cards in the set, as I’ve seen nothing written about it, and I don’t think that’s fair. I’ve played against decks that have run Slaughterhorn before, and this is better than that. I expect Blitz might even want one or two of these, as they’re more realistic to cast than Ghor Clan Rampager. I’m a fan.

Riot Piker

Riot PikerThis is obvious in what it does, but that doesn’t make it bad. I don’t mind this too much, it’s a decent aggressive creature, and it doesn’t need to do anything more. I like the Spike Jester better, but there’s nothing to stop them being in the same deck, and cards like Krenko, Mob Boss would love it if they were. It’s a shame Goblin Grenade rotated, or that might actually be a deck.

Rubblebelt Maaka

Don’t let the power and toughness fool you, this is just a Giant Growth. Anyone trying to play Hill Giants in Constructed needs counselling. I suppose it’s ok for limited though, as Giants usually are.

Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers

Zealous Conscripts is a card. Mark of Mutiny is a card. This isn’t a card. Too many hoops, and not enough of a reward.

Weapon Surge

Weapon SurgeThis has generic limited pump spell written all over it. Trumpet Blast can be fine in the right deck, so this is probably fine as well. These aren’t bad, but you almost never want more than one, and I doubt this format will be any different.

Armed // Dangerous

I like Armed much better than Dangerous, for what it’s worth, but I don’t think either half is good enough to see much play. There are just better options. I don’t remember the last time a Lure effect was playable in Constructed, and while stapling a pump spell on to it might make it close enough to be playable, the swarm decks that could make use of it really aren’t in the market for a four drop that doesn’t do you any damage itself.

Feral Animist

I like that this scales. I had a friend who valued Wandering Goblins really highly in Alara block draft, and he won a lot. This card probably isn’t good enough for constructed, but in Limited, when so many games come down to who used their mana the best, having a powerful sink like this is hugely welcome. At the time when you cast it, you’re theoretically able to pump it at least once, making it a 4/1, but any future pumps will also double that, making it an 8/1, 16/1, 32/1 etc, which is nice. I expect 8/1 to be one of the more common sizes, but still, anything that makes an opponent’s combat maths difficult has to be a good thing.

Gruul War Chant

Gruul War ChantGruul aggro decks aren’t really in the market for non-creature pumping Enchantments. This is a good one, but there are better options available. I don’t think I’d ever play this over Pyreheart Wolf or even Firefist Striker, which probably isn’t a good sign.

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

This is pretty silly. Any non-creature way to deal with this costs six damage, minimum, and if you’re attempting to dig for an answer, you can pretty much forget about it. This seems like a more obvious answer to the Sphinx’s Revelation ‘problem’ than Notion Thief, in my opinion, though I don’t really think one was necessary. A quick glance at the decks that are doing well shows far more Burning Tree Emissary than Sphinx’s Revelation, so whether that necessitates a Gruul colour hate card for a tier two strategy is beyond me.

The keywords don’t really mesh particularly well either, as Vigilance isn’t typically a Red or Green keyword. I expect it was tried out with Haste, but proved too powerful, which is interesting. I’m not really a fan of Vigilance, as it removes choices from the game, which is a bad thing, and you’re removing the tension of working out whether you can safely attack or if you need to leave blockers back. I disliked Intangible Virtue for the same reasons.

In any case, this is a solid card for slower aggro to midrange decks, and I suppose I could see a deck like RUG Flash making good use of it too, if the meta demands hate for the control decks.

Savageborn Hydra

Savageborn HydraHydras have been experimented with quite a bit in recent sets. There really haven’t been any that have been tournament playable though, with the exception of Progenitus, who doesn’t use the ‘grow extra heads’ mechanic, which, while flavourful, has been a bit of a disappointment. Adding double strike is a good start, I suppose, as is the ability to grow it at will. This is probably pretty close to playable, as a powerful creature and a mana sink are likely to be. It’s not one for the Blitz decks, but the slower, mid-rangier (is that a word?) decks might want one or two.

Scab-Clan Giant

I don’t really like all the ‘at random’ cards in this set. I’m naturally pretty risk averse, so tend to view things as worst case scenario more than I perhaps should. I have visions of this guy coming down, fighting with a Dragon and going straight into the graveyard without actually doing anything. More realistically though, he’ll probably eat a utility creature, or a Centaur token, and hold the ground until the rest of your deck can break through. It’s probably better than I think, and I’ll be very interested to play with it this weekend, to see just how good it is.

Zhuur-Taa Ancient

Zhur-Taa AncientThis is dangerous. It’s like a Heartbeat of Spring, in that your opponent gets to use it first, though theoretically, the fact that you’re running it in your deck means that you’re better set up to make use of it. This is another card that really isn’t for me, though if you can get it to work, more power to you, but I don’t expect I’ll see this card all that often while it’s Standard legal.

Zhuur-Taa Druid


This is a pretty good card for a common. I don’t really like my mana bugs to cost two, but the fact that this pings while ramping is pretty good. I think this is one of the best commons in the set, as ramping to the rest of the Gruul fatties while still getting damage in seems really strong. These are going to be incredibly frustrating in multiples as well, in a way that staring at two Avacyn’s Pilgrims never was.

Gruul Cluestone

Copying and pasting:-

Gruul CluestoneHalf Signet, Half Mind Stone, this cycle is interesting. Obviously, the Blue ones are likely to be better than the non-Blues, due to the types of deck that would want artifact mana acceleration and card drawing typically being Blue, but it’s possible that these could see play in Rakdos and Golgari combinations, thinking entirely about decks that are already seeing play – RWB Faithless Looting, and Golgari Predator Ooze / Ulvenwald Tracker, specifically.

Not overly exciting, as they cost just a little too much. Keyrune’s didn’t really see much play, and they strike me as being better anyway.

Gruul Guildgate

We’ve seen this before, and as it’s not a new addition to the format, I won’t insult you by repeating the obvious.

Blaze Commando

Blaze CommandoThis doesn’t strike me as being what most Boros decks want. It’s a little too slow to be good, though I am imagining it in a big Naya deck, making use of Geistflame to mow down the mana bugs and provide a stream of guys. I don’t think this is better than Assemble the Legion, though, say, so it’ll likely be a Limited only card, which is a shame. The more playable Minotaur’s the better, so hopefully Greek mythology inspired Theros block will bring some.

The fact that he enables Battalion all by himself is pretty sweet.

Boros Battleshaper

This is good in limited, as anything that stops blockers is bound to be, but at seven mana, it really should be. My experiences with Boros in Gatecrash limited were primarily weenie decks, and I’d almost never want a seven drop. I can’t imagine this being much different.

Gleam of Battle

This is slightly more reasonable than the Battleshaper, though still, a little too expensive. Any Glorious Anthem effects are very welcome in limited though, and I don’t really mind having to attack to get any bonuses, as that’s been what pretty much all my Boros decks have wanted to do anyway.

Legion’s Initiative

Legion's InitiativeWell, I suppose this is kind of a Glorious Anthem too, though this one is likely to be Constructed playable. The ability makes your team Wrath-proof, which is huge, and the threat of using this ability is enough to cause an opponent fits, due to giving your entire team a pseudo-Vigilance. Fortunately, the Enchantment itself doesn’t return, which means that Supreme Verdict doesn’t become entirely useless.

The big question we have to ask ourselves though:- ‘Is this better than Boros Charm against the decks where it’s good?’ I really don’t know.

Tajic, Blade of the Legion

Indestructible creatures are pretty good, and they usually cost more or have much worse stats than this. He reminds me of Konda, Lord of Eiganjo, though obviously he’s a lot better. I could see this one seeing play in a big Naya deck, as attacking with a 7/7 Indestructible creature has to be fun, and one that only costs four seems even more so.

Viashino Firstblade

This seems more like a Boros card than all of these expensive creatures and enchantments that we’ve seen so far. No frills, just a solid creature, and one that can shank an opponent from nowhere. Solid card, and very good at what it does.

Warleader’s Helix

Warleader's HelixI understand that there’s no way we could have gotten Lightning Helix. It would have been too good in a format with Snapcaster Mage and Restoration Angel. I think at this point, having more than four toughness is basically our Jace test, as cards like this, and the much mentioned Mizzium Mortars easily deal with anything smaller. I like this card, and think we’d all be a lot more excited about it if Lightning Helix had never existed.

I’m interested to experiment with this in Raka Flash and Naya, and you should be too.

Wear // Tear

Of all the new split cards, this is the one that will see the most play. That play will be almost entirely in sideboards, but it still counts. There are very few targets in standard, but I expect this will see play all the way up to Vintage, where a Shatter/Demystify split card would be very welcome. I can very much see this seeing play in Modern, where the fetch/shock mana bases would allow us easy access to both halves, if the format demanded it. Having one card that can kill both the Splinter Twin and the Spellskite is very interesting.

This is definitely one of the unsung heroes of the set, and will likely be one of the most played cards from Dragon’s Maze.

Copying and pasting:-

Boros Cluestone

Boros CluestoneHalf Signet, Half Mind Stone, this cycle is interesting. Obviously, the Blue ones are likely to be better than the non-Blues, due to the types of deck that would want artifact mana acceleration and card drawing typically being Blue, but it’s possible that these could see play in Rakdos and Golgari combinations, thinking entirely about decks that are already seeing play – RWB Faithless Looting, and Golgari Predator Ooze / Ulvenwald Tracker, specifically.

Not overly exciting, as they cost just a little too much. Keyrune’s didn’t really see much play, and they strike me as being better anyway.

Boros Guildgate

We’ve seen this before, and as it’s not a new addition to the format, I won’t insult you by repeating the obvious.

Top 5 Constructed cards I’m interested in:-

1. Warleader’s Helix
2. Wear // Tear
3. Savageborn Hydra
4. Pyrewild Shaman
5. Tajic, Blade of the Legion

Stay classy mtgUK,

Grant

What do you think is the best Red (inc. Boros & Gruul) card from Dragons Maze, and why?

Best MTG Dragons Maze Red Boros Gruul Card

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